- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Partisan rhetoric erupted after the House and Senate passed the fiscal 2008 budget resolution last week along essentially party-line votes. No Republican voted for the measure in the House (214-209), and only the party’s “Maine Twins” supported it in the Senate (52-40). In crafting a resolution that calls for spending about $22 billion more on domestic discretionary programs in 2008 than the president proposed when he submitted his budget in February, Democrats invited the president to make good on his threat to veto the forthcoming appropriations bills.

The only thing bipartisan about the president’s budget and the Democratic-crafted budget resolution is their ludicrous assertions that their five-year budget plans would generate a budget surplus in 2012 “without raising taxes.” Democrats further assume they can collect enough unpaid, legally owed taxes and shut down enough tax shelters in order to extend the expiring high-income tax cuts that their resolution does not specifically contemplate.

Bipartisan disingenuousness abounds. Contrary to all expectations and in violation of promises by each party, both the president’s budget and the Democratic resolution assume that the alternative minimum tax (AMT) will be permitted to decimate the family budgets of tens of millions middle-class households over the entire five-year period. For income earned during the 2008-12 period, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that a five-year middle-class AMT patch would cost nearly $500 billion if the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are extended beyond their 2010 expiration date. However, neither blueprint includes an AMT patch for income earned beyond 2007. Moreover, after budgeting an average of more than $150 billion per year in 2007 and 2008 for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, each five-year blueprint assumes only $50 billion will be spent in 2009 for such operations and zero thereafter. (At least the Democratic budget generally mirrors the party’s military-policy recommendations, misguided though they are.)

“Without raising taxes,” this is how both the president and the Democrats generate tentative budget surpluses in 2012 ($69 billion projected by the president and $41 billion by the Democratic resolution). For the record, CBO, which certified the Democrats’ $41 billion surplus, has estimated that the president’s budget would actually generate a $31 billion unified budget deficit in 2012, not the $69 billion unified surplus appearing in his budget.

In fact, these projected unified surpluses are beside the point. Both budgets would continue raiding the surpluses from all the trust funds (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, highway, military and civilian retirement, etc.). Thus, even if the president’s unified surplus were realized in 2012, the national debt would still increase by $372 billion, according to White House estimates. Given CBO’s projected deficit of $31 billion in 2012, the increase in the national debt would be much closer to $500 billion in 2012, a year after the first baby boomers would turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare and full Social Security benefits. And the Democrats’ blueprint isn’t much different.

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