According to President Bush and his conservative allies, Congress is on the verge of abandoning U.S. forces in the field and passing “the largest tax increase in history.” Of course, these doomsday talking points aren’t true, but Bush is in a bind. Unlike him, Americans want U.S. forces to redeploy out of the civil war in Iraq. Americans believe providing basic health care for our children is a moral imperative. They believe the tax system should be rebalanced to reward work and not wealth; and that spending for veterans care and the Gulf Coast are emergency needs. So instead of arguing against these bills on the merits, President Bush and congressional conservatives are circulating demonstrably false talking points.
- The troops on the ground have enough funds to allow the White House time to negotiate on the 2007 supplemental. According to The Hill, the Pentagon and the White House have been “sounding alarms and sketching worst-case scenarios if Congress does not pass the 2007 supplemental by April 15.” Meanwhile, Representative John Murtha (D-PA) and others have been arguing that Bush is wrong and that funds won’t dry up until June, giving plenty of time for negotiations. Now we know who’s right. A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service makes clear that Bush’s deadline is completely fabricated. According to the CRS, “the Army has enough money in its existing budget to fund operations and maintenance through the end of May—about $52.6 billion. If additional transfer authority is tapped, subject to Congress approving a reprogramming request, the Army would have enough funds to make it through nearly two additional months, or toward the end of July.”
- It is hypocritical for conservatives to oppose this bill only because of domestic spending. Conservatives are also claiming they oppose the emergency spending bill because it includes money for domestic priorities, including aide for veterans, children’s health care funds, and housing assistance and reconstruction funds for the Gulf Coast. During his radio address Saturday, President Bush complained that the emergency bills were “loaded up…with billions of dollars in domestic spending completely unrelated to the war.” This from the same President Bush who has engineered tens of millions of dollars in executive earmarks, and never once vetoed any of Congress’ previous pork-laden spending bills. Likewise, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) claimed he opposed the emergency spending bill because it “heap[s] pork on the backs of our men and women in uniform.” This from the same Trent Lott who authored “the largest earmark ever,” the $700 million “railroad to nowhere.” The truth is that Bush and his conservative allies oppose this bill because it changes course in Iraq; they just don’t want to make that their first argument, because they know it’s so unpopular.
- The Iraq supplemental includes no tax increases. President Bush said on Saturday that the annual budget resolutions passed recently by the House and Senate “would raise taxes by a total of nearly $400 billion over the next five years,” which he described as “the largest tax increase in our nation’s history.” But it’s false. There is no tax increase. Indeed, the House budget resolution is notable for its fiscal discipline, the first passed in years under pay-as-you-go rules. Consistent with those rules, which require that all tax cuts and entitlement increases be paid for, “the plan assumes the same level of revenues over the 2007-2012 period as projected by the Congressional Budget Office under its current-policy baseline; the baseline essentially assumes no change in current laws governing taxes.” In other words, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states, “charges that the plan requires multi-hundred-billion dollar tax increases are not correct.” Likewise, the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that advocates for “responsible fiscal policy,” calls the new budget a “successful first test of how seriously [House leaders] plan to abide by [the PAYGO] rule, [assuming] no entitlement expansions or tax cuts that are not fully offset.” Ironically, the tax cut expiration dates conservatives are now attacking are the same ones they wrote and supported in 2001 and 2003.