Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies, and Bushisms

I was going to write about something else today, but I am too incredulous (and angry) at an announcement that President Bush made today to focus on everything else. The President made a live TV appearance to celebrate the fact that the federal budget deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept 30, 2006 is projected to be only $295 Billion!!! I am angry because this is both a half-truth of the worst sort and not something worth celebrating by any means. Let me amplify both points.

First of all the $295 Billion President Bush cited is the combined federal deficit. The combined deficit treats surplus funds from the Social Security and Medicare trust funds as ordinary tax revenue, not money to be invested to prepare to pay benefits to future beneficiaries. The combined deficit takes these funds, spends them as though they were ordinary taxes, and places IOU's in the trust funds. Since Bush took office we have added $1.5 Trillion in IOU's to these trust funds! No wonder they are going broke! The actual deficit is much higher, but the problem is not being acknowledged by the Bush administration or Republican congress, who would never admint to such a huge problem, especially in an election year.

Secondly, the $295 Billion deficit is nothing to celebrate. It means America is going $295 Billion further in debt to the rest of the world, and ourselves. It means that instead of focusing on a concrete way to improve America by helping to end the destructive cycle of borrow and spend, Bush is going to continue in pursuit of his goal to cut the deficit "in half" by the time he leaves office. What he doesn' t know, or care, is that it is a goal that will not help America.

The first step to getting out of a hole, goes the age old wisdom, is to stop digging. Bush assures us that he will only have us digging half as fast by the end of his term. That is manifestly not a solution, and only lulls Americans into the attitude they can have spending and tax cuts at the same time.

For more information, visit the Bureau of the Public Debt, U.S. Department of the Treasury, website:


Note: "Debt held by the public" is held by those who have purchased treasury bonds, whether they are Americans or foreigners.  "Intragovernmental Holdings" are bonds owned by the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

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