Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 1, 2008
POLITICS: Bush The Spending Hawk

This AP report suggests that President Bush may be submitting his most frugal budget yet, in his final year in office:

President George W. Bush's 2009 budget will virtually freeze most domestic programs and seek nearly $200 billion in savings from federal health care programs, a senior administration official said Thursday.

Given that this is an election-year budget submitted by a lame duck president to a hostile Congress, don't hold your breath waiting for this to get enacted. But for once, the Bush White House may be taking steps to draw an election-year contrast on spending, and just as a candidate who has sought to brand himself as a spending hawk seems poised to take the party's nomination. Maybe some parts of the GOP's domestic-policy brand can be salvaged yet. How does Bush propose to save that money?

The president will propose nearly $178 billion . . . in savings from a health care program for the elderly [presumably, Medicare] - a number that is nearly triple what he proposed last year. Much of the savings would come from freezing reimbursement rates for most health care providers for three years. Another $17 billion . . . would come from the state-federal partnership that provides health coverage to the poor [Medicaid].

The official, whose spoke on condition of anonymity because the budget has not yet been released, said the budget for domestic programs would look like last year's.
"It's a very small increase," he said. "Very small."

A second official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that domestic discretionary spending would increase by less than 1 percent under Bush's proposal.


One official made that clear that medical program for the elderly would continue to grow, but not as quickly as had been expected. "Medicare will grow at 5 percent. It just won't grow over 7 percent," said this official.

Savings also would come by charging wealthier people higher monthly premiums for the drug portion of this program.

Of course, any "savings" that come from plans for "the next three years" can easily be undone by the 2010 budget that will be proposed by the next President. Still, it does look like this is a 4-part plan: tight control over discretionary spending, a less favorable deal for some enrollees in the Medicare prescription drug plan, a worse deal for doctors and hospitals under Medicare (I assume this will get passed on in some fashion to patients) and unspecified Medicaid savings.

The devil as always will be in the details, and Democrats will no doubt brand this as what one presidential candidate in 1999 famously called "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor." But it would be really good news for the GOP to once again have a fight about stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:50 AM | Politics 2008 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

This article's a joke. He's rung up the highest deficits in history and now, on his way out, he's expected to lead the way towards fiscal responsibility? Gimme a break.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at February 1, 2008 11:11 AM

This wasn't intended to be a serious post was it? Clearly, this was tongue in cheek. You can't possibly believe this Admin or GOP Inc., as currently constructed, give a damn about fiscal restraint or the thoughtful use of tax dollars.

Posted by: jim at February 1, 2008 11:55 AM

Jim, I'm not arguing for Bush's record on spending over the past seven years (which is not as bad as popularly thought, but it's still not good). I'm giving him credit for what he is doing now. And I'm not asking anybody to analyze his motives.

Posted by: The Crank at February 1, 2008 11:59 AM

Yeah, someone blows money like a drunken sailor (and allow me to apologize to all sailors, drunk or not, for this comparison) for EVERY year of his "presidency" and you trust him on this and laud him for it? We've heard this all before (pretty much in every ridiculous SOTU he's given. Haven't you heard about the tax giveaway they are planning? The $400-$1,300/person (or however much). This is your fiscally hawkish guy? Come on. He's a gas bag and you know it.

Posted by: jim at February 1, 2008 12:25 PM

I am not defending the "stimulus" package. It's craven and shameful, and like so many bad things, bipartisan.

Posted by: The Crank at February 1, 2008 12:30 PM

Then why not title it more aptly? Like:

Bush Lies Again About Fiscal Responsibility

Bush Spending Hawk: Bwwaaahahahahaha!!!!!!

Bush Proposes Sound Budget, Takes Nap

Bush To Cut Spending...Not

Any of those and a zillion more would be more accurate than the pathetically hopeful and delusional title you assigned. I know: GMOB.

Posted by: jim at February 1, 2008 1:19 PM

A recession hits, it would take a Hoover (OK cheap shot, but it sounds good) to not insist on a stimulus package of some kind. That is never good economic thought, but politics, and that will never change anywhere. It's an inevitablilty.

Bush is pulling a Roman Empire/LBJ gambit: conduct foreign wars with money you don't have; continue a growing vulnerability on supply lines of an important resource (to the Romans, it was the Egyptian granaries, LBJ was lucky the rest of the world was still recovering from WWII, and Bush2 with a two front war). It never works.

To his credit, he at least gave some good lip service to that future nuke down the road: Social Security. As long as my generation, the Boomers, think we are owed a mortgaged future, thinking we've worked hard (you want hard? Try farming in a dust bowl), and we've got the votes, we are in deep shit. As we age, and need out own kids to take us to the polling booths, and THEY run the show, watch our benefits drop.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at February 1, 2008 1:52 PM

Bush pulled the covers back for ALL to see.
The choice between D and R is not one between big and small government. It's between spending on those who NEED it vs. those who don't.

Posted by: Robert in BA at February 1, 2008 3:45 PM
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