Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

October 04, 2003

Invigorating our economy is top priority

The Sun's editorial "Bush's binge" (Sept. 26) erroneously claims that "next year's deficit will grow by $500 billion." But the Bush administration's review released in July estimates the budget deficit will grow only $20 billion next year (the increase in the deficit for fiscal 2004 over the deficit in fiscal 2003). And under the administration's policies, the deficit will be cut in half over the following two years.

And The Sun's claim that "over the next six years ... total federal debt relative to the size of the economy is expected to approach levels not seen in 50 years, and debt interest likely will exceed the costs of all discretionary domestic programs (education, law enforcement, etc.)" is simply wrong.

Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the impact of the president's fiscal 2004 budget. And, according to the CBO, publicly-held federal debt (i.e., not including debt the government owes to itself) will rise from 35.8 percent of GDP in fiscal 2003, peak at 37.4 percent of GDP in fiscal 2005 and fall continuously thereafter. Six years from now, the nation's debt-to-GDP ratio will be among the lowest we've had in 50 years.

The editorial's claim that interest on the debt will exceed domestic discretionary spending is absurd. In fiscal 2009, the CBO estimates interest payments under the president's policies will amount to $275 billion. Under the president's policies, the CBO estimates that non-defense discretionary spending will be $472 billion in that year.

The president's critics love to toss around large (and often inaccurate) numbers, but miss the bigger picture. When George W. Bush moved into the White House, our economy was quickly sliding into a recession. The stock market bubble had already burst, exports were declining, and people were finding it harder and harder to find work.

The president's decision to cut taxes alleviated the economic downturn and kept millions of Americans working who would have otherwise lost their jobs. Combined with the added costs of homeland security and fighting the war on terror abroad, the budget moved into deficit.

The president is committed to combating the deficit. But reinvigorating the economy and protecting the citizens of this country must be given first priority.

And it is the continued economic growth and disciplined spending advanced by the Bush administration's policies that will allow the budget to shift back into balance.

Mark Warshawsky

Washington

The writer is acting assistant secretary for economic policy at the U.S. Treasury Department.

Debt adds to burden on next generation

With the gap between the rich and the poor widening while the national debt continues to increase at an alarming rate, Americans need to wake up to the approaching economic crisis in this country.

The more we borrow, the more debt we place on future generations. Tax cuts, which mostly benefit the wealthy, only add to the problem.

According to The Sun's editorial "Bush's binge" (Sept. 26), canceling the Bush tax cuts would bring in $275 billion the first year.

If that money were spent to rebuild our infrastructure, expand mass transit, support education, develop alternative energy resources, protect the environment and fund a host of other much-needed projects in this country, that would create jobs and boost the economy.

How long will the citizens of this country allow this president to line the pockets of his rich friends and waste taxpayers' money on trumped-up wars at the expense of addressing the deteriorating conditions of our society?

Surely we require a better stewardship of our human and financial resources.

The Rev. David L. Pollitt

Forest Hill

Pitting the lords against the serfs?

News that the housing market and defense spending have generated higher than expected growth in the economy during the April to June period should be welcome to all ("Economy shows more signs of recovery," Sept. 19). Some economists are forecasting an even brighter third quarter and are claiming low interest rates and President Bush's tax cuts will be the reason. Wonderful.

Still, jobs are disappearing and layoffs continue. Laid-off workers by the hundreds of thousands are giving up hope of finding a new job. The number of people below the poverty level has increased by millions over the last two years, with children disproportionately affected.

Median household income is dropping. The federal debt is skyrocketing, with more than $500 billion more to be added in the next fiscal year.

According to supply-side economic theory, this administration's policies and the so-called recovery should be "lifting everyone's boat," right? So where is the wealth from this economic "expansion" going?

The supply-sider's response is: Have patience; things will get better for the working class and poor in time. Anyone who disagrees with this rhetoric is accused of "playing the class warfare card."

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