Sunday, June 26, 2005

Kristoff on the deficit

Nicholas Kristof is sounding off about the Bush deficit.
The biggest risk we Americans face to our way of life and our place in the world … may come from this administration's fiscal recklessness and the way this is putting us in hock to China. …

Critics have pounded the Bush administration for its faulty intelligence in the run-up to the war in Iraq. But President Bush peddled tax cuts with data that ultimately proved equally faulty - yet the tax cuts remain cemented in place.

Go to and read Mr. Bush's speech when he presented his first budget in February 2001. He foresaw a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years and emphasized that much of that would go to paying down the debt.

"I hope you will join me to pay down $2 trillion in debt during the next 10 years," Mr. Bush said then, between his calls for tax cuts. "That is more debt, repaid more quickly, than has ever been repaid by any nation at any time in history." His budget message that year promised that the US would be "on a glide path toward zero debt."


More than two centuries of American government produced a cumulative national debt of $5.7 trillion when Mr. Bush was elected in 2000. And now that is expected to almost double by 2010, to $10.8 trillion. …

[I]f you need to visualize the victims [of Bush's fiscal recklessness], think of your child's face, or your grandchild's.

President Bush has excoriated the "death tax," as he calls the estate tax. But his profligacy will leave every American child facing a "birth tax" of about $150,000.
A friend made this same point to me the other day. By giving these enormous estate tax breaks to billionaires, Bush is forcing the rest of us to make it up. He didn't cut spending; he simply shifted the tax burden from those who can afford it, i.e., his friends, to the rest of us. Well, it may backfire on him. He may save his friends tons of money, but if ruins the country in the process, his friends won't thank him when they realize that the world Bush left to them is much uglier than the world we had before Bush. They can lock themselves inside barbed-wire enclosed compounds, but they won't like it in there.

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