Responses to President's FY 2004 Budget Proposal

The President issued his FY 2004 budget proposal February 3, which was received with accolades by some and with great criticism by others worried that several key education, housing and environmental programs would suffer under his proposed funding levels. Included in this article are links to OMB Watch analyses, as well as the responses of other organizations and Members of Congress.

Response to Bush Budget Proposal
The Democratic Policy Committee hosted a joint House-Senate hearing on the President's proposed budget for FY 2004. Chaired by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), the hearing was attended by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Kent Conrad (D-ND), Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Budget Committee Ranking Member John Spratt (D-SC), and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Each Member of Congress spoke about the significance of the President's budget as the proof of his true priorities and criticized these priorities as being too focused on costly tax cuts for the wealthiest that increased the deficit, while limiting the resources available for education and health care for low-income families and threatening Social Security and Medicare. Panelists included Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Executive Director Bob Greenstein, Conservative commentator and National Center for Policy Analysis Senior Fellow Bruce Bartlett, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare President, former Rep. Barbara Kennelly, a retired resident of Washington, DC, speaking about her costly experiences with Medicare's PlusChoice program, a school teacher from Colorado discussing the inflexibility and underfunding of the President's "Leave No Child Behind Act," and Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution.

Ten Nobel Laureates Say the Bush Tax Cuts are the Wrong Approach
The Economic Policy Institute released a letter signed by nearly 450 economists, including 10 Nobel Laureates, opposing the Bush tax cuts. The economists assert that, “The tax cut plan proposed by President Bush is not the answer to [the country’s economic] problems. Regardless of how one views the specifics of the Bush plan, there is wide agreement that its purpose is a permanent change in the tax structure and not the creation of jobs and growth in the near-term.” The letter warns that these tax cuts, especially the dividend tax cut, will worsen the long-term budget outlook, limit the country’s ability to address its long-term needs (such as financing Social Security and Medicare benefits) and investing in education and health, and generate further inequalities in after-tax income

In a related matter, the small business community apparently feels that the major problem facing the federal government is the current level of non-defense spending. Many low-income families who rely on federal assistance for housing, heating, education, and health care assistance would likely agree. But the Small Business Survival Committee isn't concerned about recent and additional proposed cuts to these programs, but rather that non-defense spending is too high. Why is this group of business interests concerned? According to their "fact of the week" release last week, "Congress needs to get federal non-defense spending under control. If not, much-needed tax relief will be placed in jeopardy.")

As reported in OMB Watch's February 3 analysis of the Bush FY 2004 budget proposal, OMB is holding the overall FY 2004 spending increase to about 4% -- a number OMB claims is reflective of the average family's own budget increase over the last year. But a February 5 New York Times article points out that some members of the federal government's own family of agencies received much more than the average 4%. Specifically, OMB proposed an 8.5% increase for itself, arguing that it needs such a large increase to help cover the administrative costs of creating the new Department of Homeland Security.) For a quick look at other programs that received increases, and which were cut, see this 3-page analysis from the National Priorities Project).

Children' Defense Fund "New Voices, New Choices" Conference, February 11-12, 2003:
CDF will be bringing together religious leaders, civil rights leaders, educators, economists, and Members of Congress to address the many unmet needs of children in this country and the additional threats posed by the President's tax cut package. For more information, see CDF.


For more on the President's budget, please see the following analyses from OMB Watch:


back to Blog