The Free Press, Mankato, MN

News Ticker


March 13, 2008

Our View: Budget debate is unrealistic

Democrats want more spending on popular programs and tax cuts for the poor. Republicans want tax cuts for the poor, the wealthy, and on capital gains. Once again, spring training has begun for those charged with hashing out the federal budget.

Both budget proposals would continue to produce federal deficits for at least the next two to three years. A Republican plan to keep Bush tax cuts after 2010, would produce deficits years after that.

But a needed dose of reality is missing from both plans. The budget watchdog, non-partisan Concord Coalition says both parties are basing budget estimates on unrealistic assumptions.

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have proposed spending that is $210 billion to $276 billion more than the president has proposed. But the Concord Coalition says the president’s budget is not a good comparison to congressional plans because the president’s budget freezes non-defense discretionary spending for five years, something that has never been done. The group also notes the president’s budget would put non-defense discretionary spending at 2.8 percent of GDP, an all time low, and 25 percent below the figure of 2007.

The Democratic budget is not much more realistic. Budget estimates in the Senate and House show discretionary spending increasing 1.5 to 2.1 percent per year, a figure below the level of inflation. The president’s budget shows huge cuts in domestic programs such as Medicare, something also viewed as not very realistic. Both the president and Democratic leaders in Congress show war spending to be stagnant for a couple years at $70 billion and then, magically, disappear.

Military spending in both plans calls for increases of 1.5 percent per year, again below inflation and far below levels of increase in recent past.

Unfortunately, this lack of reality will continue to exist through the election, given that both parties have no penchant for making the necessary tough budget choices in a year when both are vying for the big election prize of The White House.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Spear smile.jpg Spear column: Hoffner case tested first and right rules

    The biggest news stories carry the biggest risk

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SCC leads the way on work ed The importance of higher education has never been more pronounced than with the changes occurring in our economy, especially in manufacturing. Bloomberg News noted that manufacturing accounts for 80 percent of our exports and for every one high-tech

    April 20, 2014

  • Our View: Y helps kids with skatepark Thumbs up to the YMCA and supporters working quickly to open an interim roller sport park. When fire destroyed Chesley Roller Sports Park in February, the Y made the commitment to rebuild it this summer and fall. But the Y also moved to give skateboa

    April 19, 2014

  • Our View: Make course evaluations public There's been a considerable and legitimate debate over the years about whether students at a public university should have access to teacher and course evaluations. Whenever there is a legitimate debate, it's hard to be in favor of less information a

    April 18, 2014

  • Our View: Drawing the line after Ukraine Why it matters: Tensions are ramping up once more as Russia tries to dictate to Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014

  • Our View: Costs key in health care access While more uninsured got coverage, costs must be controlled to sustain programs

    April 16, 2014

  • Our View: Saving lives trumps booking drug users Changes to the drug laws would save lives of those who overdose

    April 15, 2014

  • Pay attention! Distraction a problem A few years ago safety experts focused heavily on the dangers of people talking on cellphones while driving. Some states passed laws prohibiting the use of hand-held phones in cars as a result. Today much attention is on motorists typing on tiny hand

    April 14, 2014

  • DEBATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA When Minnesota lawmakers return from their spring break, one of the issues they may face is medical marijuana. This has been kicked around too many times. We feel it deserves to be pushed from committee and debated on the floor. The issue has been tr

    April 13, 2014

  • Our View: Cities saved on garbage collection Mankato and North Mankato saved their taxpayers money by bidding on garbage service

    April 12, 2014