As one of the top ten concerns in this years presidential election, the national deficit has been given some attention by both presidential candidates. But the candidates can only make promises to the public on this issue, stating that they will cut the national deficit in half, by 2009. Since both George W. Bush and John Kerry have the same goal, the examination begins on how each of them plan to achieve it. When President Clinton took office, he reduced the national debt by 10% in his last five years. But as Bush took the presidential seat in 2001, he reversed this progress and is now predicting that he will achieve the highest ratio of Gross National Debt to the Penny (GDP) in 50 years, if we re-elect him.
(web) "When Bush took office, there was a surplus of $236 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget. By the end of 2004, a record $413-billion deficit is expected because of tax cuts, spending on national security, Iraq and Afghanistan and interest on the debt." (web 20041023. htm) President Bush blames the deficit on the recession, the rise in military and homeland security spending, and tax cuts, which he believes were needed to encourage the economy. He has said holding off on "non-homeland security and non-defense spending combined with economic growth will make it possible to cut the deficit in half over the next five years." He still plans to try and make his tax cuts permanent, which have "affected both businesses and individuals." In respect to the budget enforcement rules affective in the 1990 s, Bush is requiring annual limits on optional spending programs, and a pay-as-you-go requirement to force necessary spending programs to make budget cuts to make up for the increases payments.
(web) Sen. John Kerry blames the deficit on "tax cuts and entitlement spending not paid for with savings elsewhere." He has said that keeping the optional domestic spending on the same line as inflation, and paying for new proposals which will balance out savings, will make it possible to cut the deficit in half in his first term. Kerry also says he would bring back the traditional pay-as-you-go rules, but keep the right to raise taxes so as to offset spending increases if necessary, though Kerry has "vowed to put off spending increases or find offsetting cuts first." Kerry plans to try and decrease tax cuts for households earning more than $200, 000, and use other tactics that he estimates will raise "nearly $900 billion, much of which will go toward funding health care and other initiatives." (web) But saying one thing and doing it are two different things and Bush has deceived us in the past on this issue:' It [this new approach] will retire nearly $1 trillion in debt over the next four years. This will be the largest debt reduction ever achieved by any nation at any time. It achieves the maximum amount of debt reduction possible without payment of wasteful premiums. It will reduce the indebtedness of the United States, relative to our national income, to the lowest level since early in the 20 th Century and to the lowest level of any of the largest industrial economies.' (web) -George W.
Bush, Feb. 28, 2001 President's Message to Congress.