THE TRICKLE DOWN DEFICIT

(11/26/2003)

OPINION AND COMMENT By Bob Weaver

What you hear and what is?

Most of us believe in the balance of power maintained by divergent political beliefs, the conservatives vs. the liberals. It is becoming more difficult by the day to sort through the chaff.

The under spoken Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs is warning the "U.S. budget is out of control." This sentiment is being echoed by economists, including the bipartisan Concord Coalition, which monitors federal spending. The group said 2003 is "the most irresponsible year ever" in terms of fiscal discipline in American history.

This spending is the courtesy of the "conservative" Republican Congress and White House, who have presided over an orgy of tax cuts, benefit increases, and ever increasing military expenses.

And you thought those Democrats were bad.

This year's budget was shot a long time ago.

The latest new costs will add as much as $800 billion to the national debt over the next 10 years.

The damage will be worse in the following decade.

The newest item is $400 billion for a Medicare plan which has a prescription drug benefit for seniors. The benefit will likely assure Bush's re-election.

The plan did not address the core issues of out-of-control drug charges to the American public, nor out-of-control insurance costs, both of which are un-affordable to the average American. (I just read where one insurance CEO is paid $70 million a year)

In the mix is a national health care system that is nearing a state of collapse.

The new Medicare plan will do little more than prop it up a little longer.

The new Medicare plan will likely shift billions of dollars to the insurance industry, which we are told is good for us, and begin the privatizing of Medicare and eventually Social Security.

The Medicare plan, which does not kick in until after next year's election, will help both the drug and insurance companies. If history repeats, the costs will spiral upward and the health care crisis will continue to snowball, snowball, snowball.

If the Bush administration's energy bill had passed, another $23 billion to $30 billion in tax cuts to corporations would be added to the deficit.

The war in Iraq had a recent appropriation of nearly $90 billion, and that's just a drop in the bucket.

So, dear citizen, after years of the Republicans screaming about the national deficit, America finally had a balanced budget.

Now we are into Bush's consecutive tax cuts totaling more than $1.7 trillion over the next decade, mostly to high income individuals, and the national debt is so high that most of us can't configure the numbers.

There is also the fleeting thought about the paltry $500-$700 billion stolen from American workers, investors, retirement funds and small businesses by giant corporations like Enron and WorldCom. How much of that money has been recovered?

But the words from Washington are consoling about fiscal restraint, responsibility, trickle-down and economic growth.


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