Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Deceit On the Campaign Trail

Two recent Washington Post columns Robert J. Samuelson addressed points I raised in my presidential candidates tirade regarding the complete lack of honesty in campaign discussions of budget policy and the economy.

Neither Bush nor Kerry intend to balance the budget by 2009, and both of their plans for not balancing the budget lack any grounding in reality. Take Kerry's plan as an example. He plans to undo the part of Bush's tax cut that applies to the highest tax bracket. As Samuelson points out, the CBO believes the tax cutting only accounts for about 30% of our current deficit. Ok, so let's say he's fixed 20% of the deficit, how about the other 80%? Kerry proposes massive increases in spending for college education, homeland security, $50b to provide economic assistance to states, a bank-breaking health care policy, all topped off by additional middle class tax cuts. This is supposed to reduce the deficit by 50%? Bullshit. Not a snowball's chance in hell. Bush's plan is no better. I believe this is one of the most critical issues in the election, and not only does neither candidate plan to fix it, neither of them can even be bothered to tell the truth about it.

Meanwhile I continue to believe that the state of the economy will be one of the most critical deciding factors in the November election, despite the fact that, as Samuelson rightly notes, there's really not much connection between the president and the economy. So here is a non-issue that due to the amount of bogus posturing and proclaiming coming from each camp (and the press) becomes a critical deciding issue.

I commend Samuelson for at least attempting to hold these guys to account. Too bad the rest of his colleagues are too busy worrying about the horse-race to bother worrying about the issues. If they did, who knows, we might even have a serious discussion of substantive issues during a presidential election. Imagine that..

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