Friday, December 17, 2004

When the Music Stops

We're about to see the ugly side of tax cuts.

During President Bush's first term, he was basically able to defer the dire consequences of his tax cuts for the wealthy. By running the most massive budget deficit in history, the White House has been able to maintain funding for domestic programs even in the face of decreasing revenues and a spectacularly costly (in many senses of that word) foreign policy. But eventually the music must stop, and critical social programs will be left without a seat.

It appears that that time is now.

Word has leaked out that the White House will ask Congress for a "spending freeze" next year. In practice, this means an effective overall spending cut -- because next year's dollar won't buy as much as this year's. So what programs will lose money?

It certainly can't be national defense or homeland security. Not for this President.

Nor is Social Security a political possibility.

And the interest payments we make on the national debt are mandatory.

So what's left?

By my count, basically transportation infrastructure, education, and welfare programs. My guess is that the last of these will get the axe. Infrastructure is too important to business interests, and cutting education would be political suicide. That means unemployment compensation, retirement and disability programs, food stamps, housing subsidies and Medicaid will likely be cut.


At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fear you are correct: the axe falls heaviest on those poorest, least capable of paying the bill.

Still, I would expect decreases in transportation as well: those costs can be foisted off on the states, which will severely harm the larger population states with expensive urban transport grids. Also, education will probably get a hit: the term will be 'freedom for the states,' and federalism rhetoric applied: Bush will keep promising 'No Child Left Behind' while doing little other than paying for new tests.

Other likely cuts: subsidies in Agriculture (on federalism grounds this time? give the megacorps a tax break, but the last remaining small farmers will be driven out of business); Dept. of Labor cuts (easily made), Health & Human Services (subtle but broad cuts), and Housing (already afoot).

All of those cuts target the poor.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger DLW said...

This pains me.



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