Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Beyond Rescue

Vice-President Dick Cheney, trying to rescue President Bush's reputation on economic management in the face of criticism by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, correctly credits the Bush tax cuts for helping to prevent the economy from falling into an extended nose dive following the 9/11 attacks. However, that is not the point on which the President deserves criticism.

While Mr. Cheney argues that spending growth has slowed, the federal budget proposed last year by the President called for spending 51% above his first budget. Interestingly, domestic spending grew as much as military expenditures over that time frame. Mr. Cheney is correct that tax receipts have grown rapidly since the tax cuts. However, that fact makes the failure to balance the budget more damning.

To defend President Bush's fiscal responsibility, Mr. Cheney would have to account for: 1) the creation, in the form of a Medicare drug program, the largest new entitlement since the Johnson administration; and 2) the failure of the President to veto a single spending bill during his 6 years in office, including unconscionable, pork-laden energy and transportation bills. This he cannot do.

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