Local Commentary

Jim Moran’s News Commentary

The President’s 8th and final budget was released this week. It charted a familiar path: more deficit spending, a failure to include the costs of off-setting alternative minimum tax (AMT) relief, a failure to include the true costs of the war and a failure to provide pay parity for our civil servants. Once again, the President’s annual budget was filled with missed opportunities and misplaced priorities for America.

The Bush budget for 2009 continues the President’s legacy of fiscal irresponsibility. It leaves behind one of the largest budget deficits in U.S. history: $407 billion dollars. That doesn’t even include the cost of the war, which has been left out since the Iraq war began.

The five largest deficits in American history all have occurred under the Bush Administration. When President Bush took office, the national debt stood at $5.7 trillion. It is projected to increase to $9.7 trillion by the time President Bush leaves office — a $4 trillion increase in eight years. This fiscal record ties the hands of the next generation, which faces growing obligations with increasingly limited resources.

The Bush budget will also hurt Americans struggling to make ends meet by cutting Medicare and Medicaid, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Medicare and Medicaid were slashed by $47 billion and LIHEAP took a $570 million cut. His budget will also hurt our long-term efforts to prepare Americans for better jobs in a global marketplace. It slashes important education and early literacy programs. The Bush budget even cuts funds to states and local governments to fight terrorism, reducing funding by 11 percent or $19.1 billion.

When it comes to the war, the President’s budget continues to understate the cost of our military’s operations in Iraq. The President’s new interest in earmarks—which the Democratic-led House cut in half and made transparent last year—is dwarfed by his spending on the war in Iraq. USA Today points out that eliminating every earmark approved last year would result in only a half of a percentage point of federal spending—and cover just six weeks of Iraq funding.

Our national budget should invest in our future and reflect the aspirations of the American people. The Democratic-led Congress will put forward a budget to take America in a New Direction to make critical investments to strengthen our economy, help Americans struggling to make ends meet in an economic downturn and to restore fiscal responsibility. It’s a different direction than the worn path President Bush has taken us down for eight years, the kind of change Democrats were elected to bring.