Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Four hundred and eighty two billion.

And that's after he inherited a $286 billion surplus:

The government's budget deficit will surge past a half-trillion dollars next year, according to gloomy new estimates, a record flood of red ink that promises to force the winner of the presidential race to dramatically alter his economic agenda.

The deficit will hit $482 billion in the 2009 budget year that will be inherited by Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain, the White House estimated Monday. That figure is sure to rise after adding the tens of billions of dollars in additional Iraq war funding it doesn't include, and the total could be higher yet if the economy fails to recover as the administration predicts.

Iraq and Afghanistan war budgets are supplementals, and the deficit calculation includes an estimate of tax revenues based on an economic model that forecasts more growth (and thus more tax revenue) than is likely. But the truth-telling is buried at the end of the article. I'll emphasize it in bold:

Monday's figures capped a remarkable deterioration in the United States' budgetary health under Bush's time in office.

He inherited a budget seen as producing endless huge surpluses after four straight years in positive territory. That stretch of surpluses represented a period when the country's finances had been bolstered by a 10-year period of uninterrupted economic growth, the longest expansion in U.S. history.

In his first year in office, helped by projections of continuing surpluses, Bush drove through a 10-year, $1.35 trillion package of tax cuts.

However, faulty estimates, a recession in March 2001 and government spending to fight the war on terrorism contributed to pushing the deficit to a record in dollar terms in 2004.

The guy had a track record of running companies into the ground. We shouldn't be surprised.

But beyond the mismanagement of our national security (endless wars in the Middle East are not making us safer), of the country's treasury, and the curtailment of civil rights at home and abroad (torture, holding prisoners without due process, wiretapping Americans without just cause) there's several things much more grave about the Bush legacy. Let's consider just one ...

The economic dismantling of the middle class -- not just the lack of decent jobs at decent wages with decent health and retirement benefits, but people losing their homes, unable to afford gas to get to work, dying for lack of affordable health care -- is the sort of thing that revolutions in the past were begun over.

It's really looking more and more like the United States needs a little of the "blood of patriots and tyrants to fertilize the tree of liberty", to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson.

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