| Bush's little white lies adding up |
"Time and again, what the president unfurls with a flourish with one hand
he undermines with the other."
"Bush himself would benefit in the tens of thousands."
By TOM TEEPEN
When does the usual political hyperbole and boasting go over the line and become
The question occurs because President Bush and his administration have been
growing more brazen in working close to the line, if indeed they haven't crossed it in
Perhaps most notorious at the moment is the administration's claim that this
second round of tax cuts that it is proposing would produce an average of $1,083 in
annual savings for taxpayers. That is exactly right -- and utterly misleading.
The figure is that high only because Bill Gates and all the other Richie Riches are in
the mix. Example: take two households, one with an annual income of $25,000, the
other of $1 million. Their average income is $512,500. But a 10 percent tax cut
yields a huge payoff for the rich guy, chump change for the other. Neither gets the
In fact, the middle 20 percent of households -- where work-a-day incomes gather --
would get just about $250 from the Bush tax cuts -- 68 cents a day. As they say,
don't spend it all in one place. Bush himself would benefit in the tens of thousands.
This is not an isolated incident. It fits a pattern.
With easily the worst environmental record of any modern president, Bush
nonetheless puffed himself up as environment-friendly in his State of the Union
address and offered as an earnest example of his intentions a dramatic $1.7 billion
grant for developing a pollution-free hydrogen car.
This huge subsidy to the automakers may be defensible, but even with this boost
hydrogen cars lie years, probably decades, in the future. Meantime, not only does
the administration refuse to hold wastrel, polluting pickups and SUVs to sensible
mileage standards, the new budget continues subsidies for small businesses --
read, usually, the owners -- to buy the biggest and most expensive SUVs.
While we're all blinking in the glitter of hydrogen cars to come, the administration is
reducing the Environmental Protection Agency budget from $8.1 billion to $7.6 billion
this year. And the new budget cuts key environmental programs, for example slicing
the Wetlands Reserve Program by $100 million.
Time and again, what the president unfurls with a flourish with one hand he
undermines with the other.
As it turns out, the zowie $10 billion he announced in new money to fight AIDS in
Africa and the Caribbean will be only $420 million in new money this year.
Where there is a discrepancy like that, Amy Call, speaking for the Office of
Management and Budget, says that the ballyhooed higher number is "an illustrative
number" -- a nifty if not especially welcome addition to the lexicon of political
And the administration is working itself up to adopting so-called "dynamic scoring"
for its economic reporting. Dynamic scoring formalizes the conviction of the
supply-side cult that every tax cut actually increases revenue because it enlivens
general economic activity.
So if you reduce taxes by, oh, $100 billion, you can record that as increasing federal
revenue by -- pick a number -- $10 billion or, if you're pessimistic, only reducing
revenue by some fraction of the $100 billion.
As every parlor magician says, "Now you see it, now you don't."
Tom Teepen is a columnist for Cox News Service.