News Release

The Incredible Shrinking Surplus


With the White House reporting today that the current-year surplus has plummeted to $158 billion from the $281 billion projected in April, the following policy analysts are available for interviews:

Author of the report “Americans on Federal Budget Priorities,” Kull is director of the Center on Policy Attitudes, which conducted a scientific online survey to determine how Americans thought the budget should be divided. He said today: “Based on what we’ve seen, in terms of how people prioritize the surplus, there may be significant public discomfort with the next round of tax cuts. The public has put a higher priority on education and healthcare than tax cuts. There was a feeling that if there was a substantial surplus, people could have all of the above, but as the surplus diminishes in size, the tax cut is losing its appeal.” When Americans were queried about what part of the budget they wanted increased or decreased, Kull found they wanted a “dramatic reduction in defense spending — on average by 24 percent. The areas of the budget to receive the highest dollar increase were related to ‘human capital.’ These included educational programs — federal support to education and job training — and medical research.”
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Author of the book Wall Street and editor of Left Business Observer, Henwood said today: “It’s sad that the budget debate seems to have come down to Bush and the Republicans handing out tax cuts skewed to the very rich and the Democrats complaining that he’s squandering the surplus. It’s like a debate between two kinds of Republicans — Reaganite supply-siders and Hooveresque austerity hounds. Why isn’t anyone saying that a flush government could afford to spend on badly-needed health care, child care, and environmental initiatives?”
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Senior research associate at the World Policy Institute and author of the forthcoming article “The Pentagon All-Stars,” Berrigan said today: “President Bush’s proposed $32.6 billion increase in military spending is greater than the entire defense budgets of every country in the world except for England, Russia, China and Japan. Bush proposed a 10.5 percent increase in military spending to a whopping $343.3 billion. The proposed federal education budget is only $19.9 billion. The proposed budget for ‘missile defense’ alone is $8.2 billion, an increase of almost 60 percent. This is the largest military budget increase since early in the Reagan administration.”
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Senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute and author of the forthcoming article “Up From Debt Reduction,” Sawicky said today: “The Democratic Party since Mondale has been trying to get the Republicans on fiscal responsibility — with disastrous results. There’s been an abandonment of fiscal activism from the Democratic Party.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167