Why Liberal Democrats Should Love Bush's Budget

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May 26 2001 6:12 AM

Why Liberal Democrats Should Love Bush's Budget

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Even those Bush tax cuts that do go into effect will increase the ability and willingness of taxpayers to be taxed later. In essence, Bush's budget takes the money Democrats will need and stores it with the taxpayers--for collection at a later date, when Bush is out of office. Yes, yes, it stores the money mainly with rich taxpayers. But that's OK. We know where they live.

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What's really difficult in federal politics, it turns out, isn't raising taxes. What's really difficult is cutting spending. Reagan couldn't do it, as Fareed Zakaria has noted. Newt Gingrich couldn't do it. Restraining spending is complicated. It's unpopular. Democrats are especially bad at it, and they should be delighted that Bush has taken on the dirty task. Every dollar he saves today is a dollar we can spend tomorrow!

According to columnist (and former budget official) Matthew Miller, Bush's original plan, if actually followed, would shrink the share of national GDP absorbed by Washington from 18 percent to around 15.7 percent. That would give President Edwards--or President Lieberman, or President Daschle--2.3 percent of GDP to spend on the Democratic programs they successfully campaigned on. You can do a lot with 2.3 percent of GDP.

At some point, when they're through denouncing Bush for putting government in a "fiscal straitjacket," honest Democrats will realize this, and be secretly grateful.

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