Last Monday, President Bush submitted a
$2.4 trillion budget for 2005, outlining his plans to get the
nation’s finances back on track. The budget calls for
significant increases in military spending and a continuation of
the Bush tax cuts. The plan also puts a freeze on spending levels
for many nonmilitary programs. Still, the federal government will
remain in the red for the 2005 fiscal year, with most projections
putting the annual deficit at well over $500 billion. A quick fix
for political gain, this new budget fails to provide for essential
services, and reflects a fiscal irresponsibility on the part of the
current administration that will come to haunt later
generations.

Beth Dykstra

The 2005 budget’s most stifling aspects are its
restrictions on nonmilitary discretionary spending, which includes
funding for environmental conservation and health agencies. The
budget orders their spending to be held to one-half of 1 percent
growth, virtually freezing them at current levels for the next five
years. Overall, 65 government programs were eliminated in the
budget and 63 more took funding cuts.

Yet, these cuts only save taxpayers $5 billion, and fail to
offset massive decreases in revenue as a result of the $1.1
trillion tax cut, in which much of the relief will go to the
country’s wealthiest families. Compounding the problem are
the increases in military spending. General defense spending will
be increased 7.1 percent in 2005, bringing it to $401.7 billion.
Domestic security spending also increases under the budget, taking
a 9.7 percent jump to $30.5 billion.

The new budget,which goes into effect Oct. 1, does make some
effort to keep Bush’s promise to cut the federal deficit in
half within the next five years. However, not included in the
administration’s numbers is the necessary funding for
military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Bush plans to
seek after the November elections. It is estimated that the
administration will need up to an additional $50 billion for these
endeavors. Furthermore, the Congressional Budgetary Office has
predicted substantial budget deficits for at least the next 10
years.

With the Baby Boomers beginning to reach retirement age, these
mounting deficits should be all the more troubling to students. The
burden of fixing Social Security, as well as paying for the Bush
tax cuts and the war in Iraq, will fall squarely on their
shoulders. Already, Bush has made a reputation as a reckless
spender, and his insistence that the nation spend more than it
takes in in tax revenue is not only irresponsible, but it forces
later generations to fund the programs of today. Bush’s 2005
budget is aimed at winning him his next election, not at moving the
nation’s finances out of the red.

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