Monday, July 12, 2004

Sen. John Kerry’s campaign proposals would result in $226 billion in higher spending in the first year of his presidency, including an additional $115 billion in social welfare, foreign aid, and environmental and energy costs, according to a study of his budgetary recommendations.

The study by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), which will be released later this week, finds that Mr. Kerry’s budget proposals, which he says would slash the deficit in half over four years, would increase spending well beyond his estimates.

“Despite Kerry’s attempts to outflank Bush on the deficit issue and portray himself as the more fiscally responsible candidate, the data behind Kerry’s rhetoric tell a different story,” said Drew Johnson, the study’s author.

“Enactment of Kerry’s ‘revised’ spending agenda in its entirety would still mean higher taxes, a larger national debt or likely both,” he said.

Using the Kerry campaign’s data and budget estimates from independent sources such as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to assess the cost of each budget recommendation, the NTUF said the Massachusetts liberal’s proposals would add $734.6 billion to the government’s bills over five years.

Since he announced his presidential candidacy, Mr. Kerry has made 70 policy proposals that would affect spending, five of which would reduce spending.

“Overall, Senator Kerry proposes spending $770.6 billion over five years to fund his projects, while suggesting just $35.99 billion in budget cuts,” the study says.

“This leaves $734.62 billion unaccounted for and presumably passed on to American taxpayers in the form of increased taxes or suffocating debt,” the study said.

When he introduced his budget proposals at Georgetown University earlier this year, Mr. Kerry said his spending recommendations would be “paid for” through higher taxes on the wealthy, budget cuts and other increased tax revenues.

But the Bush-Cheney campaign has said that repealing the president’s tax cuts for those in the top tax bracket would not yield enough money to pay for the senator’s new spending and that he would be forced to raise lower tax rates to achieve his budgetary goals.

The NTUF analysis of the Kerry spending plan reaches the same conclusion.

“If John Kerry were indeed to ‘pay for’ every program he has proposed as a presidential candidate, as he promised in the April 7 speech at Georgetown, the average taxpayer in the U.S. would face an additional $2,206 in taxes in the first year of a Kerry presidency alone,” the study says.

Mr. Kerry’s spending increase over a four-year term would total $621.76 billion, study figures show.

“That translates to an average increased tax burden of $6,066 for every person paying federal taxes in America over Kerry’s first term,” it says.

But the NTUF study does not spare President Bush’s record, pointing out that he has presided over major increases in spending, although they are well below what Mr. Kerry would spend.

“Lost among Bush’s attack on Kerry’s plans for costly programs is the president’s own disturbing record on spending, which includes a 29 percent increase in the size of the federal budget during his first term,” Mr. Johnson said.

In addition to Mr. Kerry’s newest spending proposals, the study also totaled the cost of all of the bills he has supported or co-sponsored in the Senate in the past year to get an indication of his spending habits as a senator.

This tally finds that he sponsored or co-sponsored $182 billion worth of new legislation last year and voted to increase federal spending by $466.5 billion in 2002.

The study concludes that Mr. Kerry’s proposed spending caps, “meant to convince Americans that he would usher in a new era of austerity, are actually so porous as to be no more effective than the restraints George W. Bush has sought.”

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