GOP's budget games and tax cuts imperil nation's fiscal...

Letters to the Editor

September 01, 1999

GOP's budget games and tax cuts imperil nation's fiscal future

The recently passed $792 billion tax cut bill is more than just an irresponsible act that, if signed by President Clinton, would undoubtedly return us to the days of soaring deficits and high interest rates.

The tax bill is like a runaway train with the accelerator pushed all the way down. By failing to make responsible adjustments in discretionary spending caps, it is leading toward an economic train wreck.

In 1997, as part of the balanced budget bill, Congress voted that discretionary spending caps would be used to ensure responsible spending.

The 1997 plan provided that, if spending wasn't held in check, automatic spending cuts would take over. We all knew that the caps would have to be adjusted yearly to maintain spending equilibrium.

But in making this year's spending decisions, Congress has not adjusted the caps. Instead, the Republican majority has pursued a strategy of manipulation and evasion to get around them.

These actions take us back to the days of smoke-and-mirrors budgets and undermine confidence in the budget process from the public and the financial markets.

When the reckless and irresponsible tax cuts are added, the result will be a return to soaring deficits and the unacceptable practice of raiding surpluses generated by the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for the operations of government.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has forecast a surplus next year of $14 billion. Spending decisions already taken or proposed by either the House or the Senate, however, would wipe out that surplus.

We are, in fact, really facing an $18.3 billion deficit next year. If you add the effects of the proposed tax cut, the real deficit would be $23.6 billion.

How did we get here? The discretionary spending caps exempt certain spending categories, such as emergencies. The Republican majority in Congress has circumvented the spending caps, pushing billions of dollars of non-emergency spending through the emergency spending loophole.

For example, they have labeled the 2000 Census count "emergency spending." And, earlier this year, $6 billion was added to the bill funding U.S. action in Kosovo for unrelated military spending.

These and other spending decisions have eroded the projected surplus. And a a 10-year tax cut in the $800 billion range would wipe out almost all of the projected $996 billion surplus that has been projected for the next decade. This would make it impossible to pay down the debt or deal with our long-term Medicare and Social Security problems.

We currently spend $229 billion a year on interest on the national debt. If we pay off part of our debt, we can reduce these interest payments and begin to set realistic budget priorities.

Instead, we have a budgetary fraud that deceives people into believing that we are living within our means.

We are not -- and the recently passed tax bill will only make matters much, much worse.

Benjamin L. Cardin, Baltimore

The writer represents the 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Clinton's leniency deemed an act of cynical politics

How dare the Fraternal Order of Police question President Clinton's commuting the sentences of convicted terrorist bombers. Is it just because they successfully conspired to kill American citizens and were complicit in the maiming of three police officers? ("Clinton's leniency offer came after opposition," Aug. 28).

These terrorists belong to a Puerto Rican terrorist group, the FALN. That this leniency will help Hillary Clinton's campaign for the U.S. Senate seat from New York -- as the state has a large Puerto Rican electorate -- is purely coincidental.

Our president, that paragon of honesty (remember the finger he shook in America's face?), certainly has given no one reason to question his motivation.

Most certainly, the freeing of those terrorist murderers will send a proper message to their counterparts around the world. And, after all, how important can the maiming of three police officers be? They're just police.

How important can three police officers be when compared to a Senate race or a president's legacy?

Robert L. Di Stefano, Abingdon

The writer is a retired Baltimore City police officer.

Taxpayers shouldn't fund campaign-related trips

My tax dollars are apparently going to fly the Clintons around as they house-hunt and prepare for Ms. Clinton's possible run for the U.S. Senate ("Bottom line: Clintons can afford N.Y." Aug. 17).

Reports say the Clintons will pay commercial airfare and the taxpayers will pay the rest. I wonder how much our cost actually is?

Since when do we have to foot the bill for this?

I would rather see my taxes help farmers who are losing everything because of the drought. They are honest, hardworking people, unlike our president.

Nancy Buck, Monkton

City's Republicans struggle for recognition

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