The President’s budget would provide more tax cuts heavily skewed to the most well-off while cutting vital services for low- and moderate-income Americans, generating large deficits, and increasing the strain on states already confronting budget problems as a result of the economic downturn. The budget reflects misguided priorities that would leave the American people more vulnerable in a number of ways.And I thought, "thank heaven Bush's term is almost over and the next president can start fixing the damage he's done." Then I read Robert Reich's column, Financing the Common Good, and found myself getting nervous.
A new Democratic president will face many of the same challenges Bill Clinton faced at the start of his administration -- but all made worse by George W. Bush. Clinton, recall, inherited a fiscal straightjacket. At the start of 1993, the federal budget deficit was running $300 billion a year as far as the eye could see. Prior Republican administrations had sought to "starve the beast," going deep into the red by spending heavily on defense while at the same time cutting taxes.Yes, I remember those years, and I see the similarities between the economy then versus today, but it can be fixed. Right?
A new Democratic president coming into office in 2009 will face a national debt much larger than it was in 1993. Despite the $5 trillion 10-year budget surplus that ended the Clinton years, the federal debt at the end of the Bush years will be almost $4 trillion larger than it was then. It will have grown about 70 percent during Bush's reign. If you assume 5 percent interest, the Bush debt burden will require the government to pay its creditors -- prominent among them, the Japanese and Chinese -- $200 billion a year, forever. That will use up a lot of tax revenue even before any of the nation's problems are addressed. In this way, George W. and company have done Reagan one better. They've not only starved the beast through tax cuts for the rich and increased defense spending; they've just about dismembered it. [emphasis mine]To all the people who voted for Bush, I hope you're happy. You got your short-term monetary gain at the expense of my grandchildren and their grandchildren into perpetuity.