The budget would shave $35.9 billion over five years from Medicare, the politically sensitive healthcare program for the elderly. The Medicare cuts, along with a $4.5 billion reduction in the Medicaid budget, are part of $65.2 billion in savings culled from entitlement programs
Bush also has proposed saving $14.7 billion by eliminating or significantly scaling back 141 government programs, including antidrug efforts in schools, food stamps, vocational education, and housing benefits for the elderly and the disabled.
''The president is asking our seniors, our students, and our families to clean up his fiscal mess with painful cuts in healthcare and student aid," said the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada.
The Department of Education's spending on basic programs would fall by $2.1 billion, or 3.8 percent, and the president would save about $3.5 billion by cutting a range of programs designed to promote the arts, technology, and after-school programs. Meanwhile, federally based programs to help pay for higher education would take significant hits: The Perkins Loan program would be eliminated, and Pell grant funding for college students would drop by $4.6 billion.
The savings in Medicare and Medicaid would come primarily by requiring higher-income seniors to pay more for services, and by reducing payments to hospitals and nursing homes that are scheduled for automatic increases under current law.
Amtrak, the national rail carrier, would see its subsidy slashed to $900 million from the $1.3 billion being spent on the system this year, making it likely hundreds of jobs would be cut, too.
Why will all of these be cut?
The Department of Defense would get the biggest funding increase; Bush has asked for a record $439.3 billion budget -- 7 percent more than this year, and 48 percent above the level of spending in 2001. In addition, Bush is seeking $50 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007, along with nearly $2 billion more in assistance programs for the two nations.
On taxes, the president wants Congress to make permanent a series of reductions to taxes on income, capital gains, dividends, and estates of the deceased that were passed in 2001 and 2003. Those cuts are scheduled to expire between now and 2010.
The president would also set aside $51.7 billion over five years for expanded health savings accounts, which permit taxpayers to set aside money tax-free for health care expenses.
Good old Robin Hood in reverse. This is what we are missing as we debate Cheney.