Good News, Bad News from Divided Government

The good news? It appears that with the Republicans no longer in control of Congress, someone reminded George Bush that he could veto a spending bill:

President Bush, under pressure from fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party to take a firm hand in erasing the red ink in the budget, is threatening to veto nine of the 12 appropriations bills approved by the House. The White House said a number of the bills called for “irresponsible and excessive” spending.

The bad news? It did nothing to alleviate the spendthrifts in the Executive:

Bush has proposed expenditures of $933 billion, a 6.8% increase from this year’s spending levels. That amount does not include direct expenses for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House bills, by the White House’s estimate, exceed the president’s level by $22 billion.

So, $60 billion in increased spending is ok, but $82 billion is extravagant? After 7 years of increased discretionary spending and expansion of entitlements, $60 billion is extravagant.

It leads me to wonder if the simple expedient of an across the board spending freeze wouldn’t send the budget into surplus sometime around the middle of January, given the consistent underestimates of tax receipts since the Bush tax cuts. I suspect it might. One of the “third tier” candidates for the GOP nomination suggested in 1988 that there be a freeze on federal hiring, allowing the federal bureaucracy to wither by the attrition of retirements and voluntary resignations. Throw that in for good measure and how long would it be before the record federal revenues of the last couple of years paid off the debt entirely? With the deficit at a relatively low percent of GDP, this might be a good time to consider a lot less than a 6% increase in federal spending, if not an outright cut.

And, I know I mentioned it the other day, but some tax cuts would be nice, too.

[tags]federal budget,deficit,Bush,tax cuts[/tags]

Bush, Congress signal great budget battle

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