Updated October 16, 2004

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Bush, Kerry Are Not Fiscal Conservatives

Bush, Kerry Are Not Fiscal Conservatives

Whoever Wins the White House Needs Lesson on Economics


By James P. Tucker Jr.


Neither President Bush nor Sen. John Kerry has a credible plan for dealing with the fiscal challenges he will face if elected, according to the bipartisan Concord Coalition.

“Both candidates are touting expensive initiatives costing about $1.3 trillion that would make deficit reduction more difficult in the short term and fiscal sustainability unlikely in the long term,” said the coalition’s executive director, Robert Bixby.

“The policy options in their plans are different but the bottom lines are not,” Bixby told a Washington press conference. “Regarding the deficit, they appear to be taking alternative routes to a similar destination.”

The coalition said neither candidate is proposing a balanced budget, setting aside resources for reform of the alternative minimum tax beyond 2005, given assumptions on the ongoing costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, or proposed a strategy for achieving long-term fiscal sustainability.

“Even if the policies in their budget plans succeed in halving the deficit by 2009, deficits are on track to shoot up again after that due to rising entitlement costs,” the coalition’s report said.

Entitlements refer to financial benefits government pays out to citizens, such as welfare, Medicare, Veterans Administration programs and Social Security.

“Getting control of a ballooning budget deficit requires two things the candidates are loath to discuss; spending cuts when they would prefer to talk about increases and tax increases when they would prefer to talk about cuts,” the report said. “Yet the American people deserve something more from their candidates than an invitation to a free lunch—even if that is what they want to hear.”

Both candidates’ proposals have back-loaded costs, it said.

“The president’s five-year budget omits almost 90 percent of the 10-year revenue loss from his tax policy proposals,” the report said. “The cost of Sen. Kerry’s health plan grows by 50 percent between 2009 and 2024.”

Neither candidate “has produced a credible set of numbers to back up his deficit-reduction rhetoric,” the coalition concluded.


© American Free Press 2004