News Release

Major Economic Issues: * Budget Deficit * Health Care * Social Security * Minimum Wage

WILLIAM SPRIGGS
An economist and editor of the book The State of Black America 1999, Spriggs said today: “Bush says that he plans to cut the budget deficit in half. For this fiscal year, the Congressional Budget Office projects a deficit of $415 billion. That’s slightly more than the entire non-military, non-homeland security discretionary budget (of $391 billion). Bush says he’s going to keep all the tax cuts. So how does he plan to cut the deficit in half? Does he plan to target specific programs? Or is he going to cut every item — from Small Business to Agriculture to Labor to Education to health research, and on — in the non-military discretionary budget by 50 percent?”

Dr. CLAUDIA FEGAN
President of Physicians for a National Health Plan, Fegan said today: “It’s unfortunate that neither Bush or Kerry is really addressing the needs of the U.S. public on health care. Bush talks about Medical Savings Accounts, but the General Accounting Office has found that they would actually increase Medicare costs. Meanwhile, Kerry’s plan will still leave 17 million people uninsured.” Fegan is co-author of the book “Universal Health Care: What the United States Can Learn from the Canadian Experience.”
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MARK WEISBROT
Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and co-author of Social Security: The Phony Crisis, said today: “Moderator Bob Shieffer told the candidates in last night’s presidential debate that Social Security was ‘running out of money.’ This is false. According to the Social Security Trustees’ Report, the standard source for economists as well as both the Bush administration and Kerry campaign, the program can pay all promised benefits without any changes at all for the next 38 years. Beyond that, it could still pay a benefit larger (in real, inflation-adjusted dollars) than beneficiaries enjoy today — indefinitely. It is unfortunate that what tens of millions of Americans heard about Social Security last night is an urban legend. If Social Security were a private rather than a public entity, it would actually be able to sue journalists for statements like this and win.”
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CHARLES SHEKETOFF
Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. He said today: “Oregon Labor Commissioner Dan Gardner recently announced that Oregon’s minimum wage will increase from $7.05 to $7.25 this Jan. 1 under a ballot initiative enacted in 2002 that raised the state’s minimum wage and requires an annual cost of living adjustment. Oregonians bucked the trend out of Washington, D.C. and gave a small but important boost to low-wage workers. While Bush administration tax cuts have favored the wealthy few, Oregonians’ minimum wage hike favors thousands of hard-working low-income families. This is a family-friendly policy that has always enjoyed the strong support of Oregon voters.”
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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