Notes on the Atrocities
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Wednesday, February 04, 2004  

More budget hanky-panky

I know all but the wonkiest of you are disinterested in the President's "budget" (which is really a political strategy document). But this kind of dry hanky panky is exactly how Americans get the screw from this administration, and its very complexity means most people won't care, nor will the media bother to report it. Of course, it's a critical issue.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in addition to the various lies and omissions present in the budget, we also have a little structural hide-and-seek.

The budget purports to resurrect the “Pay-As-You-Go” rules that played an important role in moving the nation from deficits to surpluses in the 1990s.... The Pay-As-You-Go rules enacted as part of the 1990 Budget Enforcement Act, and signed into law by the President’s father, required that any entitlement expansions or tax cuts be fully paid for through offsetting entitlement cuts or tax increases.

<>Entitlement increases would have to be offset.

<>The costs of refundable tax credits — i.e., tax credits for low- and many moderate-income working families — also would have to be offset.

<>But the costs of other tax cuts — including the large savings tax breaks in the budget, which would represent a bonanza for the wealthiest individuals in the country — would not have to be offset.

<>Furthermore, the only offsets that could be used to pay for entitlement improvements would be cuts in other entitlement programs. Savings on the tax side — such as from closing abusive corporate tax shelters or other tax-avoidance scams — could not be used to finance entitlement benefit improvements.

For low- and middle-income Americans, government benefits are provided principally through entitlement programs. For high-income people, by contrast, government subsidies are provided primarily through what budget analysts and the Joint Committee on Taxation refer to as “tax expenditures” and Chairman Greenspan has referred to as “tax entitlements.” By requiring increases in entitlement programs to be offset but not expansions of tax expenditures, the proposal has reverse “class warfare” aspects. (All emphasis theirs.)

And thus the ideological attacks on the poor and middle class are hidden in a rules change deep within thousands of pages of governmentspeak.

posted by Jeff | 11:12 AM |
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