Wash. Post reports without challenging Bush claim that military deficit spending post-9-11 was unavoidable

››› ››› GREG LEWIS

A Washington Post article repeated the Bush administration's assertion that "increased spending on counterterrorism, national security and the military after the Sept. 11 attacks" was an "unavoidable" cause of the large budget deficits the administration has run up since 2001. In fact, much of that spending was for the United States' avoidable war in Iraq, which played no role in the 9-11 attacks.

The Washington Post repeated in a January 12 article the Bush administration's assertion that "increased spending on counterterrorism, national security and the military after the Sept. 11 attacks" was an "unavoidable" cause of the large budget deficits the administration has run up since 2001. In fact, much of the military spending after September 11, 2001, was for the avoidable war in Iraq, which played no role in the 9-11 attacks. Additionally, while the Post noted that the Bush tax cuts "contributed to the large deficits," it also repeated the administration's claim that increased spending on national security and defense -- and not the tax cuts -- was the "primary" cause of these deficits, and cited no evidence to the contrary. In fact, according to a September 2008 analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), notwithstanding the large expenditures on the war in Iraq, the Bush tax cuts have contributed even more to the administration's budget deficits since 2001 than has increased spending on the military and national security.

The September 2008 CBPP analysis found that 42 percent of the "fiscal deterioration" that has occurred under the Bush administration is a result of "tax cuts," compared with 40 percent that is due to "[i]ncreases in military and other security programs":

The federal budget is projected to run a $546 billion deficit in 2009, compared with the $710 billion surplus that budget experts projected for 2009 back when President Bush took office nearly eight years ago. This $1.3 trillion deterioration in the nation's fiscal finances for 2009 can be seen by comparing estimates that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released this week with those that CBO released in January 2001.

[...]

The dominant factor in the unprecedented fiscal deterioration thus was not the performance of the economy. Nor was it increases in domestic programs. The key factors have been large tax cuts and increases in security-related programs. For fiscal 2009, some $1 trillion of the $1.3 trillion deterioration in the nation's fiscal finances stems from policy actions, and tax cuts account for 42 percent of this $1 trillion deterioration. Increases in military and other security programs account for another 40 percent of the deterioration. [emphasis in original]

From the January 12 Washington Post article:

As achievements, Bush and his advisers point to the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which many analysts credit for keeping the last recession mild, even as the cuts contributed to the large deficits that followed. Bush and other administration officials play down the role of the tax cuts in feeding the deficits, arguing instead that increased spending on counterterrorism, national security and the military after the Sept. 11 attacks was the primary, and unavoidable, cause.

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