Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Feb 8, 2005

Full Mental Jacket?

Up until yesterday I simply assumed that George W. Bush was an unprincipled, glib lying opportunist. But the release of his 2006 budget, coupled with his straight faced, strident declarations that it will cut the federal deficit in half by the end his second term, forces me to consider an even more frightening possibility – that the President of the United States is delusional, mad as a hatter, a raving lunatic.

Of course it could just be that, after getting away with the mother of all lies on WMD, he figures Americans will swallow anything. But with the WMD gambit we ordinary folk had no way to check if his statements bore any relationship to reality or not. The budget is an entirely different matter. Anyone who passed 6th grade math can check this one out for themselves. And, anyone who takes the time to compare what Bush claims his budget will do with the actual numbers, you can only be left with one impression; this man is either delusional, crazy, and/or dangerously crazy.

Look, it’s not rocket science. All anyone has to do is to add up all the money HE SAYS he will save by making cuts in 150 domestic programs, then add back in the increases he wants to make in defense spending and you come with a total NET savings net of just about $18 billion. And that’s only IF he gets all the cuts he wants…. Which is about as likely as Congress voting itself a pay cut.

Okay, here’s a pop quiz question. How much is the project budget deficit?

Answer: $427 billion.

Now subtract $18 billion from that and you get $409 billion.

Even those who graduated from Texas schools can figure out that that level of cuts cannot halve the federal deficit over the next four years. Not even close.

But wait, there’s more. Not more savings, more spending – or to be precise – more debt.

Taking a page out of Enron’s accounting manual, the administration has created a number of “off-the-books” expenditures. Each of these multi-billion dollar programs is near and dear to their neo-con hearts, but each is also a mega-budget buster. So, how to convince voters and the financial markets that they are serious about cutting deficits while still keeping these programs alive? Ken Lay had the answer – hide them, push the costs off into the future and, if nosey auditors start asking questions lie to them. If that doesn't work, bribe them.

Bush’s Off the Books Spending
Nowhere in Bush’s budget does he even mention the ongoing cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now this is a particularly blatant bit of chutzpah since he currently has before Congress a request for another $81 billion for the wars. And, everyone knows that we can expect additional such requests expected at least twice a year for at least the next four years.

- So add at least another $350 billion to the national debt between now and 2009.

Bush’s wants to re-jigger the US tax code during this term. As part of that process congress will almost certainly restructure the much-hated Alternative Minimum Tax because it is beginning to eat deeply into the pockets of middle class voters. Fixing the AMT will suck at least another $700 billion out of federal coffers over the next ten years. So that’s another $70 billion a year, times four years.

- Add another $280 billion between now and 2009.

Bush insists that his tax cuts be made permanent. If the Republican-controlled congress goes along, it would cost the Treasury a tidy little $1.2 trillion over the next ten years, or about $125 billion a year.

-Add another $500 billion between now and 2009.

Sorry, we ain’t done.

Bush also wants to spend suck at least $1.5 trillion out of Social Security over the next decade to create private accounts. That money would have to be replaced to pay for current and Baby Boom retirees. Since we don’t have that money, it would have to be borrowed. With interest that should add an average of $85 billion a year. (Note: White House have taken a page from Enron’s bookkeepers here by kicking the bulk of the cost of private accounts into the year after Bush leaves office. But, since this is his idea I am prorating the costs over the life of the program so he is responsible his share of the costs during his final term in office.)

- So add another $500 billion to Bush’s four-year account.

Okay, let’s add all this up and see if we come up with a number that reflect just how crazy this guy really is – or how crazy he thinks we are:

Spending NOT included in the Budget over next four years.

War costs: $350 billion
AMT fix: $280 billion
Tax Cuts Permanent: $500 billion
SS Private Accounts $500 billion
Total $1.63 trillion

Minus Bush’s Net Cuts $400 billion

Gain/Loss - $1.23 trillion

Yes folks, the man who claims his budget will cut the federal deficit in to a $233 billion by 2009 is only a trillion dollars and change off.

Is he mad? Or is he just lying to us again? There is NO third possibility here.

If he is mad, he is clearly not mad in a good way, like say, the Rainman. At least Rainman could correctly account for how many paper clips had been spilled without even counting them. Bush can’t even learn from past counting mistakes. It was just a year ago, that he pledged (complete with cocky smirk) that he would cut the deficit in half by the 2009 fiscal year, that he promised the budget deficit would decline to $364 billion in 2005 and $268 billion in 2006. Forget about it. Not even close. Even his keepers at the White House now admit that this year’s deficit will rise to $427 billion.

Memo to Democrats: Do you boys and girls own calculators? If so get them out and begin harassing Republicans with them. Demand that they show you how to do the math so the answers come out the way Bush’s calculations. When they won't - because they can't -- remind them that most voters back home can understand simple math and that, if any member of either party votes for this budget you will mail every voter in their district a cheap pocket calculator along with Bush budget numbers they can check for themselves.

Then insist that congress add back into budget every one of the off-the-books items Bush left out – the war, fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax, the cost of private accounts and making the Bush tax cuts permanent. If they refuse, kick a fuss, throw a loud, royal, kicking and screaming shit fit about it. Get on TV and shout "fraud." Compare the administration’s bookkeeping to that of Enron, WorldCom and Global Crossing – because the similarities are striking. And, remind voters that even as Bush proposes this budget, WorldCom's Bernie Ebbers is on trail for doing just what Bush does in his budget - lie, cheat and play hide the pickle from auditors.

Finally, start using the “L” word when it applies. Calling them what they are, liars, when the facts clearly show that that is precisely what they are.

Then again it might just be quicker to just ring 911 and ask that a couple of beefy guys in white jackets to pick up a raving lunatic at 1600 Penn. Ave. They’ll know him when they see him. He will be the guy on the lawn holding a plate of fish and bread
claiming he can turn them into enough grub to feed the world.

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