News Release

Budget Battle?

DEAN BAKER
“The public debate over the budget has almost completely missed the real issues,” said Baker, an economist at the Preamble Center. “The debate has been portrayed as a dispute over whether to spend the surplus on social programs or whether to pay it out in tax cuts. In reality, the projected surplus is based on the assumption that social programs will be cut in real terms over the next decade. The issue between the President and Congress is actually about how much these programs will be cut. Of course the even bigger deception is that we are making a budget for the next ten years. Whatever is done this year is going to be re-examined in every subsequent session of Congress.”
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COURTNEY CUFF
Legislative director of Friends of the Earth and co-author of the Green Scissors report, Cuff said: “As the Congress and the administration continue to fight over the budget, unfortunately the Congress has chosen to fund millions and millions of dollars worth of anti-environmental pork. Considering the tight budget we’re operating under, this harmful waste of tax dollars is shameful. For example, Congress is refusing to force oil companies to pay fair market value for oil drilled on public lands. Because the oil companies are undervaluing their royalty payment, the taxpayers are losing at least $66 million every year.”

JOHN MILLER
A professor of economics at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, Miller said: “Much of the projected budget surplus comes from real cuts in discretionary spending on the domestic economy. Programs targeted at the poor, such as Head Start, will not be adjusted for inflation. The rest of the projected budget surplus comes from the buildup in the Social Security Trust Fund. The Clinton administration would use those monies to pay down the national debt. Other than perhaps warding off further Republican tax cuts, that move will do little to secure Social Security or our economic future.”

CHRIS HELLMAN
Senior analyst at the Center for Defense Information, Hellman said: “Our military budget just dwarfs everyone else’s. If you look at the top ten spenders, we outspend the next nine combined. Just over half the discretionary budget is for the military. Military spending in real terms is at the peacetime Cold War average and began going up this year. It will increase by $130 billion over the next six years. As you attempt to reduce overall federal spending while providing real increases for the military, it’s inevitable that other programs are going to get squeezed. Assuming Congress and the administration abide by the spending limits, the vise grips on non-military spending are going to get tighter in each successive year.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020 or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167