Fighting the "fiscal cancer"


Geraldine Sealey
April 8, 2004 1:37AM (UTC)

John Kerry gave a major economic address today at Georgetown University. Here are some choice excerpts:

"In the last three years, the federal budget has gone from record surpluses to record deficits -- which, if left unchecked, can become a fiscal cancer that will erode any recovery and threaten the prospect of a lasting prosperity. ... George Bush now promises to reduce the deficit -- the same promise of fiscal responsibility he has made and broken in every year, every budget, and every State of the Union message. The record is clear: a deficit reduction promise from George W. Bush is not exactly a gilt edged bond; and if he continued in the Presidency and performed as he has in the past, a third Bush term could mean a third Bush recession."

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" ... In the 1980's, the national debt clock in New York City became a symbol for a federal deficit and debt that were out-of-control. ... By 2000, we were on the road to saving Social Security and we were paying down our national debt for the first time since Andrew Jackson was president -- 170 years ago. The numbers on the national debt clock were spinning backwards. Just before George Bush took office, the clock was taken down. Talk about wishful thinking."

"The new President, who had promised to change the partisan tone in Washington, promptly turned his back on the bipartisan balanced budget consensus of the 1990s. Instead of short term decisions to stimulate the economy, he made long term mistakes that exploded the deficit. He lavished tax cuts we couldn't afford on those who didn't need them. He made a clear choice: to pass the bucks to the privileged while passing the buck to our children. Because of this President's decisions, a child born today will inherit at $20,000 debt -- a 'Birth Tax' that he or she had no part in creating. In New York, the national debt clock has been turned back on -- with the numbers rising faster than the human eye can see."

"In a blink of history's eye, trillions in budget surpluses have been transformed into trillions in deficits over the next decade. From missions to Mars to tax cuts for the wealthy to a Medicare bill that benefits drug companies and burdens seniors, the Bush Administration has failed to pay for what it has proposed. This President has proposed or passed $6 trillion in initiatives in the next ten years alone that he has no plan to pay for. His record shows that we can't trust what he says. And no matter what he says now, the Bush policies will not reduce the deficit but worsen it."

"Instead of facing that reality, George Bush stubbornly refuses to change course. When false promises don't work, he tries excuses. Blaming everyone from Bill Clinton to Ken Lay to Saddam Hussein. But that is not the reason for our own budget crisis. The independent, non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported last month that 94 percent of the $500 billion deficit for next year is due to George Bush's excessive spending and ineffective tax giveaways for the wealthiest Americans."

In the speech, Kerry also lays out his plan for the economy, which includes, he says, lowering taxes for the middle-class, imposing spending restraints to prevent creating programs with no way to pay for them, and fighting corporate welfare.

In this part of the speech, Kerry invokes the name of a potential running mate: "John McCain and I have introduced legislation to end corporate welfare as we know it. In a Kerry Administration, we will fight for that bill; we will take our case to the public if we have to -- and we will pass it. Today, mining companies buy up public lands for five dollars an acre. And Dick Cheney's old company Halliburton dodges taxes with offshore havens while it gets billions from no-bid government contracts. If I'm elected President, those days will come to an end."

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"By going after corporate welfare, as John McCain says, we can save tens of billions of dollars a year. Our bill calls for a Corporate Subsidy Reform Commission to recommend cuts and submit them to Congress for an up or down vote -- with no amendments. John McCain can't get anyone in the Bush White House to listen to our proposal. If I'm President, John McCain will get the first pen when I sign this bill into law."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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