Ron Nessen writes in today's Washington Post Think Tank Town column that Left and Right Attack Budget:
Think tanks on the left and think tanks on the right are complaining about President Bush’s new budget. The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the budget fails on three counts: fiscal responsibility, fairness and balance, and honesty and transparency.
“The nation and its policy makers can do better,” the think tank declares in what it calls a preliminary analysis paper. On fiscal responsibility, the paper says the President’s budget would increase the government’s deficit over both the short run and long run by cutting many domestic programs and using the savings – and then some – to cover the cost of tax cuts and military and homeland defense expenses.
As for fairness and balance, the think tank concludes that the tax cuts would go to the most well-off while the budget cuts would primarily affect low- and middle-income Americans.
And on honesty and transparency, the Center’s analysis faults Bush for not including in his budget funding for operations in Iraq, lost revenue from extending relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax, information to support claims that the deficit will be cut in half by 2009, and estimates of revenues, expenses, and deficits beyond 2011.
Meanwhile, from right, the Heritage Foundation complains that Bush’s budget contains increased spending for such items as education, international affairs, health research, and housing.
A paper by Heritage budget expert Brian Riedl contends that the budget does not propose enough bold reforms to quickly cut back on fast-growing and “unsustainable” entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – which threaten to overwhelm the government’s fiscal structure.
The think tanker does have a few good things to say about the President’s budget. He praises Bush for freezing non-defense discretionary spending at last year’s levels, eliminating or reducing 141 “outdated and wasteful” programs, and proposing to make previously-approved temporary tax cuts permanent.
President Bush’s next steps should be to demand that Congress work within the new budget framework, threaten to veto excess spending, and propose substantial reform of entitlement programs, the Heritage scholar advises.