George Bush's 'Heartless' Budget

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The
game has begun. George Bush has introduced a budget that contains
"tough cuts" in programs. The Democrats are screaming,
and "libertarian" Republicans are cheering Bush’s courage.

But
let’s see what’s going on. For
fiscal 2005, the latest estimate is that
the federal government will spend
$2.4 trillion.

For
fiscal 2006, the President is proposing a tough, no-nonsense,
program-slashing budget
of $2.6 trillion.

So
with all "Bush’s proposed cuts," we wind up with a federal
government that’s 7% larger.

In
addition, we must note that the actual budget almost always
exceeds the President’s proposed budget – usually by
several percent. So what we’re hearing is the same old "we’re
going to . . . " that we always hear from the Republicans.
The reality undoubtedly will be only a tiny fraction of what they’re
promising now, and more likely will be the opposite of what
they’re promising.

But,
all together now, let’s give a round of applause to President Bush
for holding the increase in spending down to 7%. Isn’t that exactly
what we’ve been hoping for?

I
guess not.

The
whole thing is a game. Republicans pretend to cut, to appeal to
free-market Republicans – and the Democrats pretend to be outraged,
to appeal to their socialist supporters. In reality, nothing will
actually change. It never does.

Republicans
are great at two things: (1) taking credit for promises that haven’t
been fulfilled yet, and (2) coming up with excuses when the promises
aren’t fulfilled.

‘Would
You Believe?’ Department

Something
I never thought I’d see: A Democratic governor is proposing real
cuts in Medicaid.

Medicaid is a federal program that’s supposed to provide health
care to poor people who can’t afford or can’t get health insurance.
Each state government receives money from the federal government,
adds money from its own budget, and sets up its own program. In
Tennessee it’s called TennCare. Governor Phil Bredesen is a Democrat
who was elected in 2002. While his Republican predecessor was dedicated
to pushing a state income tax on one of the few states without such
an abomination, Bredesen has steadfastly refused to balance budgets
by introducing new taxes or raising old ones.

Don’t get me wrong, Bredesen is a politician – and I could
fill this page with boondoggles and intrusions that he’s introduced,
both as governor and previously as mayor of Nashville. But at least
he works within the revenues available and doesn’t ask for more.


Now he has said
, "The way in which Medicaid pays for services
has more in common with a socialist economy than the commonsense
economic and business principles that do such a good job allocating
resources efficiently in other parts of our American life."
I can’t remember the last time I heard a politician utter the word
"socialist" while discussing a government program –
or compare government inefficiency with free-market efficiency.

Bredesen is proposing a number of changes in the program –
most notably the removal of 323,000 non-Medicaid-eligible people
from the program, to save $575 million in Tennessee dollars. Needless
to say, it has produced howls of anguish from the usual suspects.

What he has proposed is still just a proposal. As with any politician
we have to wait and see how hard he actually works to make the proposal
a reality. In the meantime, the dialogue is refreshing.


The New Era

As you may remember, when the Iraqi war started, all the TV news
networks – when reporting about the war – displayed the
caption "Operation Iraqi Freedom" at the bottom of the
screen. This was the name the Bush administration gave to the operation.
When the violence continued into the "postwar" period,
most networks stopped using the slogan – although I did see
it once about a month ago (I’ve forgotten which network displayed
it).

This afternoon, while getting something in the kitchen, I turned
on the TV to Fox News. The network now has a new, post-election
slogan at the bottom of the screen when reporting on the war: "Iraq:
The New Era." Unfortunately, while this was displayed, the
announcer was reporting on today’s Iraqi violence. Sometimes, it’s
hard to tell the New Era from the Old Era.

From
the mail bag (or inbox)

This
email message poses a poignant question:

In his prolific
writings, has Harry ever said what he would do, without altering
history, to prevent these terrorist fanatics from killing? Please
send a link.

I’ve said quite a bit on this subject. You can find links to a number
of solution-type articles on the page "What
Should We Do about Terrorism?
"

Your constant
whining and lack of pleasure with anything is really starting
to wear me down, and dampen my enthusiasm for anything close to
you. I got over it once, and even though most of your bellyaching
did not come to fruition, I’d thought I’d give you another chance.
But here we are, millions did not die, Iraq is progressing better
than you ever predicted, and you still are finding fault.

You must have me mixed up with someone else. I didn’t predict that
millions would die. Neither did I make any prediction regarding
what would happen in Iraq. I said only that our government had no
business making war on a country that hadn’t attacked us.

Even if WMDs had been found in Iraq, it wouldn’t have justified
invading Iraq – any more than the existence of WMDs in Russia,
Israel, China, Pakistan, France, England, India, or anywhere else
would justify attacking a country that hasn’t threatened us.

As to "Iraq is progressing better," I hardly think the
deaths of 100,000 people are something to celebrate. But, then,
we may not value life in the same way.

And, finally, as to my whining, I’m sorry if it bothers you, but
to remain silent while our government systematically attacks and
devastates other countries seems to me to be the highest form of
treason. I love America too much to watch its government go down
the self-destructive road of empire and not try to stop it.

Why the
disdain for Fox TV News
? Did you prefer the status of the media
before, when the big three sang the New York Times song in
harmony?  Fox isn’t perfect, but it is a fresh voice, and far
more libertarian than what was before.

I’ve said often that the press in general is pro-government. Fox
TV News is no exception. I wrote about the network in the recent
article simply because it was the network that I happened to watch
the night of the Iraqi elections. However, because the network is
overtly pro-Bush, the ridiculous assertions I quoted in my article
probably exceeded those that were made on the other networks. I
might have had less material for an article if I’d watched CNN or
MSNBC.

February
11, 2005

Harry Browne [send
him mail
], the author of Why
Government Doesn’t Work

and many other books, was the Libertarian presidential candidate
in 1996 and 2000. See his website.

Harry
Browne Archives

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