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  xThursday, January 30, 2003

kurtz on the sotu


I'm not going to have much more of my State of the Union roundup, but today's Howard Kurtz column is a must-read:
Imagine – hard as it is – President Gore standing in the House chamber and delivering his annual address to the nation.

He calls for spending $400 billion over the next decade to strengthen Medicare and launch a prescription drug program.

He calls for $450 million to bring mentors to disadvantaged students and children of prisoners.

He calls for $600 million for treatment programs for drug addicts.

He calls for $15 billion over five years to combat AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean.

He calls for $1.2 billion to develop clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.

What do you suppose the Republicans would be saying about Al Gore?

Big spender? Wild-eyed liberal? Doesn't understand that government is the problem, not the solution?

Wouldn't there be lots of accusations of fiscal irresponsibility – especially when the $417 billion in new spending is coupled with $674 billion in tax cuts?

But no one in the GOP that we've seen is suggesting that George Bush's brand of compassionate conservatism is, well, kind of expensive. And the Democrats, who have their own domestic laundry list, obviously don't want to go there.

Much of this, of course, was overshadowed by the intense focus on the Iraq portion of the State of the Union.

But if Bush wants to spend all this money on new programs – admirable as that might be – how is he going to restrain overall spending, as Mitch Daniels keeps promising? Exactly which programs is the White House going to cut (or, excuse us, restrain the growth of spending)? How is the administration going to keep the nasty ol' deficit – which has now shot up to $199 billion, according to the CBO yesterday – from exploding?

No Democratic president would get a pass on this sort of fuzzy math, not with the budget plunging back into the red after years of surplus. But it's not the script to question the spending habits of a supply-side Republican president, since the GOP no longer cares very much about this sort of bookkeeping or thinks we can Laffer-curve our way into the black. Now we can all get back to worrying about the butcher of Baghdad.

Looks like the "liberal media" strikes again...





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