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Matt Singer on February 8, 2006 - 6:03pm
President Bush's Mythical Budget Leaves the States Holding the Bag FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 02/08/2006 The Bush Administration's budget proposal is chock full of bad ideas, wildly irresponsible, and opposed by members of both parties. It's also got more holes than a wheel of Swiss cheese. The fifty states are being left to fill in the holes. The Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN), a national organization representing state legislators fighting for working families, offers the following round-up of what they're saying and what you need to know:
- Fiction. The President Prioritizes National Security in This Budget. President Bush claims that in writing the budget "his priorities were 'protecting our citizens and our homeland'" [New York Times, 2/7/06].
- Fact. Funding for First Responders is Cut. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME): "But the President's homeland security budget is not all good news. It cuts grants to states and local governments, to police, firefighters, and other first responders. These are grants that help train and equip our first responders, including providing them with interoperable telecommunications equipment, which we have seen time and again--including in our Hurricane Katrina investigation-- is essential to respond effectively to catastrophes" [Sen. Collins, 2/6/2006] Fact. The Budget Ignores the Pentagon's Recommendations. The President's budget spends huge sums on costly weapons system better suited for fighting the Cold War while ignoring the needs of the War on Terror according to the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 2/6/2006]
- Fiction. President Bush Has Stepped Up Border Protection.
- Fact. Bush is Refusing to Work With Border States on Immigration. Under Bush's proposal, no money would be given to states to reimburse costs of holding illegal immigrants, a job that should be the responsibility of the federal government [LA Times, 2/7/06]
- Fiction. The President is Prioritizing Math and Science Education. In the State of the Union, President Bush announced the "American Competitiveness Initiative -- to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science" [President George Bush, 2006].
- Fact. The President is Actually Cutting Education Funding. Despite marginal increases in one area, the President cuts education funding overall. The President's proposed cuts include literacy and student loan programs. Additionally, the newest budget would increase the margin by which the federal government is failing to fully fund No Child Left Behind [Stateline.org, 2/7/2006]. The President has pledged to prepare more students for college but deny those very students the means to attend.
- Fiction. The President Supports Vocational Education. "I propose increasing our support for America's fine community colleges, so they can -- I do so, so they can train workers for industries that are creating the most new jobs" [President Bush's 2004 State of the Union].
- Fact. The President's Budget Proposes Cuts to Vocational Schools. Bush's proposed budget would cut "state grants for vocational education" [Stateline.org, 2/7/06].
- Fiction. President Bush is Committed to Weaning the United States Off Its Oil Addiction. "America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology" [The President's 2006 State of the Union].
- Fact. The President's Budget Cuts Funding to States to Improve Energy Efficiency. President Bush's budget cuts state grants to improve energy efficiency of low-income households by almost one-third [Stateline.org, 2/7/06]. Fact. The President is Actually Cutting Some Renewable Energy Research. Hydropower and geothermal energy lose $24 million in funding while other renewables programs gain only roughly $130 million in new funding [Stateline.org, 2/7/06]. The net effect of efficiency and research cuts and the research increases is a virtual freeze in the energy innovation budget. Fact. President Bush's Top Energy Advisors Already Promised He Was Lying About Alternative Energy. "One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally" [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 2/1/06]
- Fiction. This Budget is Fiscally Responsible. The Bush Administration is cutting billions in popular domestic programs and using those cuts to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility.
- Fact. Bush's Tax Cut Explodes the Deficit. President Bush is calling for making permanent the tax cuts passed previously by Congress. Of course, these tax cuts only got passed in the first place by playing number games that included their eventual phasing out [Hacker and Pierson, 2005]. Why? Because they aren't affordable. While President Bush's budget calls for cutting expenditures by $187 billion over five years, it calls for $285 billion in tax cuts during the same period. Even worse, in the next five year period, an additional $1.4 trillion in tax revenue is lost [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/6/2006]. Fact. The Budget Cuts are Smoke and Mirrors. Many of the President's proposed cuts have already been rejected once by the Congress and will likely be rejected again since members of the President's party are also speaking out against them [Stateline.org, 2/7/2006; New York Times, 2/7/2006; Los Angeles Times, 2/7/2006; Senator Norm Coleman, 2/6/2006]. Additionally, Goldman Sachs is saying the numbers are simply unrealistic [Washington Post, 2/7/2006] Fact. The President Still Isn't Coming to Grips With the Full Cost of War. The President's budget numbers significantly lowball the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq [Washington Post, 2/7/2006]
- Fiction. The Federal Government Took Care of States in the Past. Mike Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, claims that the federal government can no longer help states the way it did earlier in the Bush Administration [Stateline.org, 2/7/06].
- Fact. The Federal Government's Assistance to States has Declined for Years. This budget continues a six-year trend of declining budget support for states according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. [Stateline.org, 2/7/06]. Fact. The Federal Government Will Be Unable to Assist States in the Future if Bush's Budget is Adopted. Unlike the federal government, states cannot have budget deficits. When the next downswing in state budgets occurs, the federal government will be too debt-ridden from Bush's budget proposals to assist, leaving only deeper cuts as the only option.