A budget worthy of scorn

The most disturbing spending reduction is to Medicare.

President George W. Bush’s proposed 2007 budget is a mixed bag. No one can argue that its main focus areas are not a bigger military and a stranglehold on the tax cuts for the wealthy from Bush’s first year in office. In exchange, the president wants to curb the growth of Medicare and reduce or eliminate 141 other government programs, one-third of which deal with education.

Within the $2.77 trillion budget, the military gets a 6.9 percent increase from last year. The Department of Homeland Security also gets a raise, apparently at the expense of nine other Cabinet agencies. The most disturbing spending reduction is Medicare. Congress just approved massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years, and hopefully will object to Bush’s absurd additional cuts. With the baby boomer generation about to retire and new drugs coming out every year, the nation’s medical costs are not going to decrease. While most University students probably do not worry about their medical care as a senior citizen, given the current political climate, they would be wise to find employment that offers more than a so-so retirement package. At least they won’t have to worry about the government meddling in their lives ” unless it involves their phones and computers.

On the plus side, the budget provides for programs to develop alternative fuels to deal with increasing energy costs ” with the fringe benefit of possibly helping the environment ” and more funding for basic sciences research, as well as science and math-teacher training. Unfortunately, the budget also includes $4 billion in revenue from oil collected from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a project Congress consistently has refused to allow. Attaching it to the budget is a dirty trick that Congress hopefully will see through. Bush claims the budget deficit will be halved by the time he leaves office in 2009. But because of increased spending in Iraq, 2007’s deficit likely will surpass 2006’s record-breaking $423 billion deficit. If Bush wants his approval back, he will have to reconsider his priorities.