Policy Memo: Senator Kerry's claim of $6.5 trillion of unpaid Bush initiatives
FROM: Tim Adams, BC'04 Policy Director
RE: Senator Kerry's claim of $6.5 trillion of unpaid Bush initiatives
John Kerry's numbers don't add up and he knows it. Over the course of his career, John Kerry has voted for more spending not less, and higher taxes not lower. He has voted for higher taxes more than 350 times, and he has consistently flunked the scorecards of budget watchdog groups, including Citizens Against Government Waste and the Concord Coalition.
His attacks and assertions this week raise serious questions that John Kerry has yet to answer.
Questions For John Kerry
Section I. Budget And Surplus
- Senator Kerry is attacking the President's entire tax cut, including tax cuts for the middle class, and has voted for higher taxes more than 350 times. Does he now concede that he will repeal all of the Bush tax cuts?
- Senator Kerry has advocated 73 spending proposals, 28 of which have been scored by third parties. These total $1.7 trillion above the President's budget. What specific tax hikes or budget cuts does Senator Kerry propose to pay for his spending and his promise to cut the deficit in half in four years?
- By attacking the President's funding for national security is Senator Kerry advocating cuts to Defense and Homeland Security?
- Senator Kerry has already begun to backpedal from some of the spending promises he made during the Democrat primary contests. Why are Senator Kerry's latest proposals any more credible than the proposals he made during the primaries? Will he change his mind again?
- The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) have scored the costs and savings in the President's budget. Will Senator Kerry submit his proposals to JCT and CBO for cost estimates?
The President has submitted a highly detailed budget of several hundred pages that lays out how we will meet our nation's key priorities and cut the deficit in half over the next five years. President Bush's own OMB Director, Josh Bolten, has testified before Congress this year to discuss that budget.
- The President's budget sets priorities. It increases spending on national defense by 10% and on homeland security by 7%.
- Total spending for other programs increases less than 1%. Some programs receive more than a 1% increase while others receive less.
- The President's budget saves $14.5 billion in one year by eliminating or reducing funding for 128 duplicative or inefficient programs. These savings allow the President's budget to increase spending for priorities like health care and education.
President Bush has a comprehensive plan and a budget to cut the deficit in half. Senator Kerry doesn't have a plan or a budget.
The President has proposed and sent to Congress a series of measures to reform the budget process. These reforms include discretionary spending limits, mandatory spending controls and measures to address the long-term unfunded obligations of the Federal government. Senator Kerry has not produced a budget or listed a single spending program that he would reduce or eliminate.
The surplus of the late 1990s was made possible by multi-year reductions in spending on defense and by an irrationally exuberant stock market that produced billions in tax revenue from capital gains and bonuses. The long-run surplus estimates generated in 2000 did not adjust for the highly unlikely sustainability of the tax gains from stock market activity, the likelihood of a recession and the need to pursue counter-cyclical polices, the attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent need for higher spending on defense and homeland security.
An analysis by the Joint Economic Committee reveals that the recession and corrections in revenue estimates caused 50% of the change from the budget surpluses that the Congressional Budget Office estimated to the actual deficits that have occurred for fiscal years 2002 through 2004.
Question: Senator Kerry has already begun to reduce some of the spending promises he made during the Democrat primary contests. Why are Senator Kerry's latest proposals any more credible than the proposals he made during the primaries?Section II. Tax Cuts
Question: The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) have scored the costs and savings in the President's budget. Will Senator Kerry submit his proposals to JCT and CBO for cost estimates?
Senator Kerry asserts that the cost of the Bush tax cuts already enacted, proposed extensions and new proposals will reduce revenue by $2,519 billion over the 2005-14 period.
However, this figure includes numerous provisions that Kerry has previously claimed to support, such as:
- New 10% income tax bracket
- $1,000 child credit
- Marriage penalty relief
- Energy conservation incentives
- Promoting charitable giving
- Long-term care and other health incentives
- Extension of the R&E credit
The figure also includes numerous provisions that Senator Kerry has remained conspicuously silent on, such as:
- The new individual income tax rates of 25%, 28% and 36% for the middle tax brackets.
- Simplification and expansion of IRAs and 401(k)s.
- Education saving incentives.
The cost of permanently extending the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 for the period of 2005-14 is $989.7 billion. (Source: General Explanations of the Administration's Fiscal Year 2005 Revenue Proposals prepared by the Department of the Treasury, February 2004)
The cost of extending all expiring and proposed tax provisions (including the above) for the period 2005-14 is $1,240 billion. (Source: General Explanations of the Administration's Fiscal Year 2005 Revenue Proposals prepared by the Department of the Treasury, February 2004)
Senator Kerry's stated tax increases on the "wealthy" would at most raise about $658 billion. (Source: U.S. Treasury Department)
Question: Senator Kerry is attacking the President's whole tax cut, and has voted for higher taxes over 350 times. Does he now concede that he will repeal all of the Bush tax cuts?Section III. 2002 Farm Bill
Senator Kerry cites the 10-year cost of the farm bill as $82 billion, however, farm production costs have recently dropped making the 10-year cost of the farm bill lower. For example, farm payments dropped from $17.4 billion to $10.3 billion for just one year alone. (Source: "Production Costs will Drop in 2004," Southeast Farm Press, 3/3/04)
Furthermore, Senator Kerry voted for the bill. (H.R. 2646, Vote #103, 5/8/02)
Question: Senator Kerry voted for the farm bill, but is attacking its funding. Does Senator Kerry now propose that it be repealed?Section IV. Retirement Savings Accounts/Lifetime Savings Accounts
Senator Kerry asserts that these proposals will explode the deficit by using a 75 year analysis.
The actual cost of the President's proposals to "simplify and encourage savings" is $7.585 billion for the period 2005-14. (Source: General Explanations of the Administration's Fiscal Year 2005 Revenue Proposals prepared by the Department of the Treasury, February 2004)
Using a 75 year estimates for any analysis beyond testing the viability of the federal government's trust funds (e.g., Social Security Trust Fund) is sheer deception. By this same logic, Senator Kerry's proposed $1.7 trillion (and rising) in new spending for the ten year period (2005-2014) would rise to well over $12 trillion if extrapolated to a 75-year window.
Question: What is Senator Kerry's proposal to encourage Americans to save?Section V. Medicare
Senator Kerry claims that the Medicare prescription drug program will cost $616 billion but the Senator voted for a $625 billion bill and supports a much more expensive drug benefit program. (Source: S.Con.Res. 23, Vote #63 on Amdt #294 on 3/20/03 and Vote #89 on Amdt #396 on 3/25/03)
Questions: After voting to increase the Medicare bill from $400 billion to $625 billion, does Senator Kerry now propose that we have no prescription drug coverage at all? How would Senator Kerry pay for his more expensive Medicare program?Section VI: Social Security
The President has not proposed nor selected a particular plan to implement personal accounts and, therefore, defining such costs is again highly misleading. It is appropriate to view any such proposal over a much longer time horizon such as the 75-year analysis that Senator Kerry deceptively applied to the savings proposals above (Social Security projections are largely based on the reality of demographics, as opposed to forecasting the economy, how people will respond and the impact on federal revenues).
Applying a 75 year analysis to Model 2 contained in the Report on the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security (the plan Senator Kerry chose to highlight) shows that it would reduce debt held by the public by $19,777.6 billion in constant 2001 dollars.
Senator Kerry does not have a plan to address the Social Security system's long-term solvency problem.
Question: Without reform, the 2004 Social Security trustees report shows that making the trust fund solvent would require an increase in the payroll tax of 1.89 percentage points, a cut in benefits by 12.6% or some combination of the two. What is Kerry's plan to save Social Security?Section VII: Defense And Homeland Security
The President believes that defending our nation is the federal government's top priority and is committed to spending a sufficient level of resources to achieve that goal.
Senator Kerry has a long record of opposing the weapons systems, defense and intelligence spending that are winning the War on Terror.*
Question: By attacking the President's funding for national security is Senator Kerry advocating cuts to Defense and Homeland Security?Costs Associated With Iraq, Afghanistan And War On Terror
Senator Kerry asserts that these efforts will cost $240 billion over ten years but it is impossible to calculate the cost associated with fighting the War on Terror. Either Senator Kerry accepts this responsibility and the costs associated with it or he should come clean with the American people about his plans to retreat.
Question: Does Senator Kerry propose an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan? As President would he deny troops the funding they need to fight and win the war on terror?Section VIII: Missile Defense
During his career Sen. Kerry has been both for and against missile defense. When he first ran for Senate in 1984, he proposed the cancellation of missile defense and would go on to vote against it at least 53 times during his 19 year Senate career. Kerry later answered "yes" in a 2004 Peace Action candidate questionnaire when asked whether he supported the development of a missile defense system. Now, once again, Kerry is opposed to funding for a missile defense system.
Question: Has Sen. Kerry ended his debate with himself over missile defense, and is he now for or against it?Section IX: NASA
Senator Kerry asserts that going to Mars will cost $1 trillion. This estimate is based on a back-of-the envelope calculation by Atlantic Monthly columnist Greg Easterbrook and is not a serious analysis. The President has laid out a measured and deliberative approach that includes refocusing NASA's programs and budget towards this new goal. The additional cost of this effort is $1 billion over the next five years.
Senator Kerry claims to support new funding for NASA but now attacks the President's proposal to fund NASA. (Source: John Kerry for President Web site accessed 3/19/04)
Question: Now that Senator Kerry has attacked the President's $1 billion increase in NASA funding, does he support NASA or not?Section X: Military Retirement Reforms
Senator Kerry asserts $31 billion for military retirement reforms, however, this number appears to represent the enacted compromise for concurrent receipt benefits. Kerry has called for full concurrent receipt, which would cost more than twice as much as the compromise. (Source: John Kerry for President website, "Fighting for America's Veterans, accessed 3/16/04; Testimony of the Congressional Budget Office before the Senate Armed Services Committee, 3/27/03)
Question: Why is Senator Kerry playing politics with military retirement reforms?Section XI: Other Mandatory Spending
Senator Kerry asserts $112 billion for other mandatory spending. This number appears to include tanker acquisition, unemployment benefits, state fiscal relief, terrorism risk insurance, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and the refundable portion of doubling the child tax credit. Many of these items Kerry claims to support or has called for even more spending.
Question: By attacking the President's funding for unemployment benefits, state fiscal relief and other programs that Senator Kerry has claimed to support, does he now oppose them?Conclusion
In conclusion, Senator Kerry's attack includes initiatives that he claims to support and sometimes voted to increase. Much of Kerry's $1.7 trillion in new spending would go on top of the costs listed above.
*Not Long After First World Trade Center Bombing, Kerry Proposed $7.5 Billion In Across The Board Intelligence Cuts. In 1994, Kerry proposed rescinding $1 billion in FY1994 Intelligence budget and freezing the budget at that level through at least FY1998, which would cut $5 billion from Intelligence funding during that period. Kerry's proposal was defeated by a vote of 20 to 75, with even Sen. Ted Kennedy voting against the measure. Then in 1995, Kerry proposed a bill to, "[r]educe the Intelligence budget by $300 million in each of fiscal years 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000." This bill had no co-sponsors and never reached the Senate floor for a vote. (Amdt. To H.R. 3759, CQ Vote #39: Rejected 20-75: R 3-37; D 17-38, 2/10/94, Kerry Voted Yea; Kennedy Voted Nay; Sen. Dennis DeConcini [D-AZ], Congressional Record, 2/10/94, p. S1360; S. 1290, Introduced 9/29/95)
*Kerry Has Voted To Cut, Transfer Or Otherwise Decrease Overall Defense Budget At Least Thirty-Eight Times. (S. Con. Res. 32, CQ Vote #52: Rejected 43-54: R 1-50; D 42-4, 5/8/85, Kerry Voted Yea; S. Con. Res. 120, CQ Vote #88: Adopted 66-29: R 38-13; D 28-16, 5/1/86, Kerry Voted Nay; S.Con.Res. 30, CQ Vote #60: Motion Agreed To 64-31: R 38-5; D 26-26, 5/3/89, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 2072, CQ Vote #72: Motion Agreed To 77-18: R 30-11; D 47-7, 6/1/89, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 2884, CQ Vote #216: Motion Agreed To 51-48: R 34-11; D 17-37, 8/3/90, Kerry Voted Nay; S. Con. Res. 29, CQ Vote #49: Motion Rejected 22-73: R 1-39; D 21-34, 4/25/91, Kerry Voted Yea; S. Con. Res. 106, CQ Vote #73: Motion Agreed To 53-40: R 38-1; D 15-39, 4/9/92, Kerry Voted Nay; S. Con. Res. 106, CQ Vote #69: Rejected 45-50: R 4-37; D 41-13, 4/9/92, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 2403, CQ Vote #85: Adopted 61-38: R 7-36; D 54-2, 5/6/92, Kerry Voted Yea; H.R. 4990, CQ Vote #108: Adopted 90-9: R 34-9; D 56-0, 5/21/92, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1122, CQ Vote #156: Motion Rejected 16-81: R 8-45; D 8-36, 6/8/99, Kerry Voted Yea; S. Con. Res. 18, CQ Vote #46: Adopted 69-30: R 31-12; D 38-18, 3/23/93, Kerry Voted Nay; S. Con. Res. 13, CQ Vote #180: Rejected 40-60: R 37-17; D 3-43, 5/23/95, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 1087, CQ Vote #389: Motion Agreed To 56-42: R 50-3; D 6-39, 8/10/95, Kerry Voted Nay; S. Con. Res. 57, CQ Vote #113: Rejected 42-57: R 6-47; D 36-10, 5/15/96, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1745, CQ Vote #172: Rejected 34-65: R 4-49; D 30-16, 6/26/96, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1745, CQ Vote #173: Rejected 45-55: R 6-47; D 39-8, 6/26/96, Kerry Voted Yea; H.R. 4278, CQ Vote #302: Passed 84-15: R 38-14; D 46-1, 9/30/96, Kerry Voted Yea; H. Con. Res. 68, CQ Vote #86: Adopted 54-44: R 54-0; D 0-44, 4/15/99, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 2707, CQ Vote #182: Motion Rejected 28-69: R 3-39; D 25-30, 9/10/91, Kerry Voted Yea; S. Con. Res. 13, CQ Vote #181: Rejected 28-71: R 2-51; D 26-20, 5/24/95, Kerry Voted Yea; H.R. 2707, CQ Vote #182: Motion Rejected 28-69: R 3-39; D 25-30, 9/10/91, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 2399, CQ Vote #56: Motion Rejected 50-48: R 3-40; D 47-8, 3/26/92, Kerry Voted Yea; S. Con. Res. 106, CQ Vote #70: Motion Rejected 36-62: R 3-39; D 33-23, 4/9/92, Kerry Voted Yea; H.R. 5677, CQ Vote #208: Motion Rejected 36-62: R 5-38; D 31-24, 9/16/92, Kerry Voted Yea; H.R. 5677, CQ Vote #209: Motion Rejected 30-67: R 6-37; D 24-30, 9/16/92, Kerry Yea; H.R. 5677, CQ Vote #211: Motion Rejected 43-53: R 14-28; D 29-25, 9/17/92, Kerry Voted Yea; S. Con. Res. 18, CQ Vote #50: Motion Agreed To 58-41: R 6-37; D 52-4, 3/23/93, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1298, CQ Vote #253: Motion Agreed To 61-32: R 35-5; D 26-27, 9/9/93, Kerry Voted Nay; S. Con. Res. 63, CQ Vote #66: Rejected 42-58: R 42-2; D 0-56, 3/23/94, Kerry Voted Nay; S. Con. Res. 13, CQ Vote #204: Rejected 31-68: R 1-53; D 30-15, 5/25/95, Kerry Voted Yea; S. Con. Res. 13, CQ Vote #205: Rejected 26-73: R 2-52; D 24-21, 5/25/95, Kerry Voted Yea; H.R. 1944, CQ Vote #319: Motion Agreed To 57-40: R 47-5; D 10-35, 7/21/95, Kerry Voted Nay; H.R. 1944, CQ Vote #320: Motion Agreed To 65-32: R 49-3; D 16-29, 7/21/95, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 1745, CQ Vote #175: Motion Agreed To 60-40: R 50-3; D 10-37, 6/26/96, Kerry Voted Nay; S. 1061, CQ Vote #229: Motion Rejected 27-72: R 2-53; D 25-19, 9/10/97, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 2057, CQ Vote #173: Rejected 18-74: R 1-50; D 17-24, 6/25/98, Kerry Voted Yea; S. 1077, CQ Vote #224: Motion Agreed To 77-22: R 48-0; D 29-21; I 0-1, 7/10/01, Kerry Voted Nay)