Friday, October 15, 2004

Fiscally responsible

C-SPAN this morning featured a discussion with Robert Bixby of the Concord Coalition. The Concord Coalition has had a difficult time over the past 4 years. Their goal is to decrease the federal debt and to return solvency to social programs, Social Security chief amongst them. The Coalition was founded by former senators, Paul Tsongas and Warren Rudman, and by Pete Peterson, former US Secretary of Commerce. They added former senator Bob Kerry as co-Chairman in 2002. The discussion is an excellent one.

Some of the things that Bixby brought up: Both candidate's proposed programs will increase the debt by $1.3 trillion. Neither candidate includes spending on the war or natural disaters as part of their budget proposals. Both candidates use $80 - 100 billion of Social Security funds to make their deficit numbers look smaller. Bush's program for privatizing social security was characterized as a free lunch program (because he has no method for paying for it) while Kerry's was characterized as "no plan".

Be sure to read the Concord Coalition's report (pdf reader necessary) on this topic.

Sadly, the discussion centered on the office of the president when Congress is the branch of government that holds the purse strings (if Kerry is elected, mark my words, we'll be quickly reminded of this fact). The Seattle Times ran 2 stories today which relate to this topic, both on the same page. First was the report that the government has hit it's debt ceiling of $7.4 trillion. Unfortunately, the gutless wonders in Congress who are running for re-election didn't see fit to raise the ceiling even though the Tresury Secretary has been asking for the raise since August. The result is that the Secretary is doing some accounting maneuvers while Congress promises to rectify their mistake in a lame duck session after the election. So let's get this, um, straight: The GOP saw fit to bring up bills in Congress on the Pledge of Allegiance and Gay Marriage Rights, but didn't think that managing the US financial standing was important before an election. Tell me that the Republicans are not as corrupt as the Democrats.

Oh, and scoll to the bottom of the article. The Corporate Tax (refund) bill that just did pass Congress this past month, in time for the elections, included a nice pork barrell spending clause for Tom Delay to the tune of $23 million of our money. Gotta love it.

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