WASHINGTON, DCPresident Bush proposed a $2.4 trillion election-year budget Monday that would boost defense spending, redistribute funds among government programs, and cross out the $477 billion deficit entirely.
"Nobody likes making cuts, but the nation's current rate of spending and the decreased tax revenues we've seen since implementing my tax cuts have created a deficit that we can't afford to carry," Bush said in a nationally televised address. "Someone had to have the vision, leadership, and courage to go in and erase that line altogether, no matter how unpopular and impossible that may be."
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the $477 billion deficit is the country's largest ever, easily topping the previous record of $290 billion in 1992. If the budget is approved, however, the deficit will roll down to $0.0 billion.
In the past, critics have accused the Bush Administration of responding to a mounting deficit and the ongoing recession with unsound fiscal policies like cutting taxes for the wealthy. Bush supporters say the deficit cut proves the wisdom of the president's economic plan.
"Bush has taken a brave step, one that was long overdue," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said. "He has taken charge of the budget problem once and for all, simply by saying 'The deficit stops here.'"
Faced with the difficult choice of either cutting government programs or raising taxes, Bush reportedly arrived at the radical new "deficit-cutting" solution late Sunday night, only hours before he was to announce his budget.
"I was staring at the figure for the deficit, and I decided that it simply could not stand," Bush said. "It was too high. Something had to be done. But Americans have been taxed and taxed. I say 'Enough taxes.' By my estimation, this historical crossing-out of the deficit will save American taxpayers millions, billions, and perhaps even bajillions of dollars."
The president then turned to Section 14-D of the official budget document, where the federal government's total expenditures, the GNP, and the difference between the two were listed. Using a black Sharpie, the president crossed out the third figure, eliminating it entirely.
Bush then held up the newly marked-up page and said, "My fellow Americans, I have solved the federal budget crisis."
The budget is expected to pass through the GOP-controlled Congress with little or no opposition.
"I don't know why I didn't have this idea before," Bush said. "For years, we have tried to control the deficit by eliminating federal programs, lowering taxes for the rich, sending out checks to everybody, and God knows what else. None of us once thought to just draw a line through it."
The Bush plan is not without critics.
"President Bush drew a line through the deficit, yes, and we commend him for that," Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) said. "But that doesn't solve the country's budgetary problems. While he was at it, why didn't he add several zeroes to the end of our GNP?"
Political pundits have been largely impressed by the visionary slash.
"Opinions vary as to what the long-term effects of the deficit cut will be," New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said. "One thing, however, is certain: The growing federal deficit, a Gordian knot that for three years no amount of cutting taxes and spending money could unravel, has been sliced in two by the president's bold, radical new take on the problem."
A CNN/Gallup poll taken immediately after the president's announcement showed that 67 percent of Americans support his decision to draw a black line through the deficit, and thereby eliminate it.
"I'm tired of the tax-and-spend Democrats always talking about adding zeroes to the GNP," said Henry Strom, 40, of Bakersfield, CA. "How about we cross out our debts and get our affairs in order before we start adding zeroes? We need to cut this deficit and stand firm against printing deficits in future budgets, as well."
According to Bush's political advisors, later this week, the president will declare that the U.S. has universal health care.