Bush Budget Extends Deficit; Women's Rights under Attack

Article excerpt

Tax Cuts Endanger Human Needs

Mindful of loud objections, the Senate demonstrated a bit of fiscal restraint by slashing George W.'s outrageous ten-year $726 billion tax cut package to $350 billion. Like his previous tax cuts, this round would shower benefits on very high income earners, while providing little or nothing to moderate and low-income families. NOW has argued against ANY tax cuts because of looming federal deficits and the reduced ability of government to fund important human needs programs.

This reduction was the first major setback for the administration's domestic spending agenda, which Bush had touted as stimulus to the ailing economy. But many prominent economists assert that the cuts would not produce the needed trigger, would exacerbate the economic downturn by reducing revenues to financially-strapped states already in financial trouble and would lead to even greater job losses.

Three million workers have lost their jobs in the last two years; one million have exhausted unemployment compensation benefits but have not yet found jobs.

The House budget resolution reduces by $ 162 billion a wide array of entitlement (mandatory) programs, including nutrition assistance, income support, health care, child care for working poor families and assistance to poor elderly individuals and people with disabilities. It also calls for $244 billion in cuts to domestic discretionary spending, which includes programs for low income individuals and families. The Senate version contains $159 billion in domestic discretionary program cuts, but does not cut entitlement programs.

At the same time, the budget allocates a whopping $399.2 billion for defense and homeland security and increases defense spending by $193 billion over the next six years. Just before the Senate vote, the administration sent over a request for $75 billion to fight the war against Iraq. With new reports that the war may drag on for months, some are estimating the cost to be closer to $200 billion - and billions more to rebuild the wartorn country.

Plunging U.S. Into Long-Term Debt

Because of the first round of tax cuts and revenue due to a poor economy-this year's federal budget deficit will come to $304 billion. Over five years it will be $1.08 trillion or higher.

Adding to the burden, Bush will soon push for legislation to shield capital gains and interest from taxation, and accelerate planned income tax cuts. Unless federal spending is drastically cut, this will spawn significant, long-term national debt. In the meantime, the federal government will be shrunk to bare bones and debt-ridden state governments will inherit responsibility for the disadvantaged.

Such a dramatic turn-around in national economic well-being is of special significance to women, as the entire Social security surplus of $2.2 trillion would be spent and the expectation of $5.6 trillion to the Social security Trust Fund over the next ten years would have evaporated.

Bush's irresponsible fiscal policies threaten the retirementsecurity of millions of workers -even more so for divorced, widowed, disabled and very elderly women who depend on their Social security checks. This cynical strategy of weakening the fiscal soundness of Social security may make it easier for the Bush administration to convince enough members of Congress to repeal the system and replace it with risky private investment accounts.

Dramatically Shrinking Government

The administration's budget plan would slash Medicaid and the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), freeze funding of child care and make deep cuts in welfare, public housing assistance, employment and training, community development, legal services, state and local law enforcement assistance and many other areas. The Bush budget also:

* Continues the inadequate funding of Medicare programs, which will accelerate the recent trend of health care providers dropping services to seniors and provide the Republicans with a handy rationale for turning Medicare into an under-funded voucher program. …