The Sentinel of No Man's Land

Kaye Dunagan

Beginning with this piece, Ms. Dunagan will give her perspective on our federal budget, two other columns will follow, plus another on Social Security-Ed.

The Budget

Recently three things came to my attention and I decided to take a look at what was being said about the budget for 2007.

First, I saw this information in the New York Times. In a secret meeting excluding the Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, but including Senate GOP negotiators and lobbyists, it was agreed to change the Senate-passed Medicare legislation that would save the health insurance industry $22 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The Senate version would have targeted private HMOs participating in Medicare by changing the formula that governs their reimbursement, lowering payments $26 billion over the next decade. But after lobbying by the health insurance industry, the final version made a critical change that had the effect of eliminating all but $4 billion of the projected savings, according to CBO and other health policy experts. This is another example of “Welfare for the wealthy.”

Second, Paul Harvey said that the states taxes were going up by as much as 40% because they would have to pick up a lot of Medicaid and Education expenses that had been covered by the Federal Government. There is a chart that shows the percentage of cuts for each state, and Oklahoma 's cuts were not nearly as large as some of the other states are suffering.

Third, the Guymon Ag-news reported that many of the farm subsidies were either eliminated or reduced in the latest budget. (I have not been able to find what those cuts are.)

Domestically, the President ignored the Middle Class and short changed the economic well being of the American people. He proposes to give more to the rich, while cutting health care for people in the middle. He is cutting America 's hopes, aspirations and safety net to reward America 's wealthiest. Tonight, millions of Americans are without health care, but the President ignores this national crisis. Millions of American children live in poverty, but the President overlooks their plight. And, millions of Americans fear they may never retire in dignity, yet the President ignores the threat, and does nothing to allay the real fear of Middle America .

The budget analyses written by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities are clear and comprehensive and LONG so for those of you with computers, I am going to provide two excellent web sites. If you do not have a computer, take these to the library and I am sure the librarian will be glad to help you find them and use their links. http://www.cbpp.org/2-14-06tax.htm and http://www.cbpp.org/2-6-06bud.htm But for those of you who want to read it, I will give you a very shortened version.

An administration's budget is a statement of its priorities. This budget's priorities are clear: it features cuts in numerous domestic programs that serve low- and middle-income families alongside continued — and substantially expanded — tax cuts of very large size that concentrate their benefits on people high on the income scale. The new budget also contains continual significant increases in defense and homeland security spending.

This analysis assesses the President's budget on three basic criteria — fiscal responsibility, fairness and balance (i.e., does it call for shared sacrifice?), and the degree to which it is transparent (does it conceal or omit basic budget information or resort to budget gimmickry?). This analysis indicates that the budget falls well short on all three standards.

Is the Budget Fiscally Responsible?

The Administration's budget would increase the deficit over both the short run and the long run. The budget proposes significant reductions in a broad array of domestic programs, but those reductions would not be used to reduce the deficit. Instead, they would be used to offset a fraction of the costs of the tax cuts the President proposes. Since the tax cuts and the defense and homeland security increases the President is proposing would cost substantially more than his domestic program cuts would save, the net effect of the new budget would be to make deficits larger than they otherwise would be.

The national debt increased since Dec. 2005 by $79,057,397,063

And the new total by Feb. 2006 was $8,221,848,593,225

Your share of the federal debt is $27,570

China , Korea and Japan hold a lot of the Treasury Bills that fund that debt.

Is the Budget Fair and Balanced?

Although the fiscal consequences of the tax cuts enacted in recent years are becoming increasingly apparent, the Administration has responded not by reassessing any of those tax cuts, but by proposing sharp cuts in many domestic programs, alongside an array of costly new tax breaks. The tax cuts would favor the most well-off, while the program cuts would primarily affect low- and middle-income Americans. These will be discussed in more detail in the next installments.

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