Here's one of the best news items I've heard in a while, and that's also because it's one of the worst. I was reading on the BBC that Bush presented this year's budget today
. As is typical fashion in American politics, the details are short and "sweet", with very little information on specific cuts or other spending initiatives. Basically, the only thing that is covered in any of the mainstream news articles I read are an increase in military and defence spending for the "war on terrorism", and cuts in healthcare and "other areas" in order to pay for this and those permanent tax cuts Bush brought in a few years back.
So, what does this amount to? The US budget for 2006-2007 (starting in October) will be $2.77 trillion. It's great how they can say things like "a 2.3% rise from the previous year", which doesn't really turn any heads. On the contrary, what is the impression conveyed if I said the following:
The budget includes an $50 billion spending increase over last year, even considering the large cuts in medicare.
This is how the media constructs the news, and how government officials spin the news. 2.3% sounds a whole lot better than $50 billion. Both are true, but which one misrepresents? People are stupid, 2.3% seems like nothing. Well, on spending of $2,770,000,000,000 it is a shitload of money.
Let's look at a few more facts, shall we? This year's deficit will be of an all-time high $423 billion. Keep in mind that the US debt is currently $8.2 trillion. When I was in New York a few years ago, I remember seeing a big electronic sign with the debt on it. It was still around $6 trillion at the time. Spending and deficits have increased exponentially under Bush.
We have here a budget which sets the fiscal priorities for a nation, and on the frontpage of Fox News and CNN, their cover story is about a woman who had her face transplanted. But, healthcare cuts which will affect tens of thousands of those who need these programs the most are not that important. Bravo! P.S. I wrote this section earlier in the day and am finishing it tonight. Looking back, the CNN site no longer even mentions the budget on their front page.
Here are a few more examples of wonderful spin:
"My administration has focused the nation's resources on our highest priority -- protecting our citizens and our homeland" --George W. Bush
OK. What about healthcare for the needy? There is an unnecessarily large percentage of people who have no coverage whatsoever in the United States, and you just increased it! Good job. Tactical nuclear weapons are a wonderful priority, though, and no doubt every American would agree.
Responding, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said, "The president is focused on making sure that we keep our economy growing, and that means keeping taxes low."
Yes, funnelling public money into defence contractors really helps the economy. Giving R&D tax credits to energy companies and other favoured sectors of the business world from public coffers really helps. Cutting taxes and essentially creative a system of regressive taxation in which the wealthy receive a far larger percentage of return in taxation is helping the economy. Keeping taxes low for corporations is helping the economy. No shit it is, but at what cost?
"We have to face up to this fiscal reality that this baby boom generation is going to retire soon and we need to do something about it," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire.
You're right buddy. I think the best way to address the ageing population is by cutting healthcare programs for the elderly, including hospitals, nursing homes, home care providers and hospices. Old people don't need any of that! What isn't factored in, either, is that Congress JUST approved a cut to healthcare and other program spending, and here is a brand new one for them to chew on.
Bush's budget also projects receiving $4 billion over the next five years for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Wow, they actually budget these types of things in? I'm speechless. Here's how the logic goes. We give you free land, we give you tax credits on development of that land, we'll lower your taxes, and then you just have to give us a small percentage back so that we can pay for our war.
The administration said last week it will ask Congress for an additional $120 billion to cover fighting for the rest of this year
They JUST asked Congress for more money not too long ago. My mistake, that was for money going to Halliburton in order to fund the "reconstruction". War is brilliant. You pay technology companies to research things, then you pay for them to build and sell the weapons to you, you use them to bomb the shit out of some country, and then you give money to some other contractor to "rebuild". This war will end up costing $1 trillion or something by the time it's over.
Instead of pushing last year's Social Security overhaul proposal, the president is calling for creation of a bipartisan commission to study ways to deal with soaring spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Soaring spending? You keep cutting money out of those programs! What type of horrible mismanagement would cause them to "soar" when so many people aren't getting the basic services that they need. Here's an idea. How about calling a bipartisan commission in order to study your soaring defence spending. Talk about a pipe dream.