Congress obliges president with another bad budget
The only good budget news out of Washington, D.C. , Thursday was that Ohio's two Republican senators were true to their conservative fiscal roots. Both Mike DeWine and George Voinovich voted against the irresponsible budget bill -- two of only three Republicans who had the guts to say "no."
Unfortunately, their voices were not enough.
The budget resolution was passed along overwhelmingly party lines -- both the Ohio and Pennsylvania delegations in the House followed their party leadership to a man -- and the result is that by a few votes in each chamber, the nation is shackled to another budget that will add massive amounts to the national debt.
As Voinovich pointed out in his statement on the Senate floor, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that this budget will add $600 billion to the national debt, the same amount that was added to the debt a year earlier.
"We keep borrowing more and more money for spending instead of restricting the growth in federal programs and/or raising the revenues to pay for those programs," Voinovich said.
And if the two-year figure of $1.2 billion in additional debt Voinovich quoted is unnerving, consider this: By October, the debt will be just a few billion short of $9 trillion. The government's borrowing limit will have been increased by $3 trillion since President Bush took office.
Cut and borrow
While the budget contains about $10 billion in cuts in social programs, it includes $70 billion in tax cuts that were supposed to expire, but have now been made permanent.
In effect, the budget will require borrowing money to cover the cost of the tax cuts, meaning, as we have said before, that today's taxpayers are grabbing tax cuts at the expense of their children and grandchildren.
While it is true that the events of Sept. 11, 2001, placed extraordinary demands on the government and unique pressures on the economy, that can no longer be used as an excuse for such profligate spending.
And, as we have said before, despite what Vice President Dick Cheney may claim: deficits do matter.
If deficits did not matter, there would be no real concern with the future of the Social Security system. Those treasury notes that have been piling up for all these years during which Social Security has been collecting more than it has been paying out, would be of little concern if deficits didn't matter.
The scary truth is that the administration is willing to sound alarms about the debt that has been accumulated by Social Security, but likes to pretend that additional trillions of dollars of debt being piled on through the normal budget process is of no concern.
The message that this administration must hear and hear soon is that debts matter because they must be paid -- by someone, some day.