USA Today Pits Two Liberals to One Conservative in Budget Story

In the February 4 USA Today, Richard Wolf treated news of Bush's last budget proposal by alternating between liberal Democrats attacking the president and Wolf's own stark language in characterizing the spending blueprint. What's more, Wolf cited two Democrats attacking the spending plan, compared to one Republican depending reductions in spending in the final Bush budget.

An excerpt follows (emphasis mine):

The $3.1 trillion budget would sharply reduce the growth of Medicare and trim other domestic programs, while providing sizable increases for defense, diplomacy and homeland security.

Perhaps its most lasting legacy, however, would be the re-emergence of deficits above $400 billion, nearly matching the $412 billion record set in 2004. The deficit would rise from $162 billion in 2007 to $410 billion this year and $407 billion next year.

Those deficits, fueled by the roughly $150 billion economic stimulus plan pending in the Senate, would send the federal debt soaring past $10 trillion next year.

"This is the legacy our children and grandchildren will inherit from the fiscal policy of this administration," said Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The budget calls for the continuation of Bush's tax cuts, passed largely in 2001 and 2003. It does not, however, include relief beyond this year for about 20 million taxpayers threatened by the alternative minimum tax, which is not indexed for inflation. Such relief would push the deficit even higher.

Also likely to boost red ink further: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush's budget includes $70 billion for the 2009 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. That's just enough to get through his administration, which ends Jan. 20, 2009.

"Once again, the president has tried to conceal the true fiscal impact of his budget by leaving out large costs," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

The sole defender of the plan quoted in the article didn't appear until paragraph 11 of 12:

Republicans defended the spending cuts. "Any budget, to be effective, needs to address the unsustainable growth of entitlement spending, which is the single biggest factor contributing to the long-term fiscal crisis we face," said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.

Update (14:54): The article linked above apparently has been updated. It now runs 18 paragraphs long and also includes President Bush and White House budget director Jim Nussle in defense of the budget, as well as Nancy Pelosi attacking it. That evens things out.

Taxes Economy Budget USA Today Government & Press Judd Gregg Richard Wolf John Spratt Kent Conrad