Vol. 3, Issue 3, February 1, 2005
Bush Proposes Using Freedom to Balance Budget
President Bush has made it clear that freedom is the watchword for his second term in office. He made it a central theme of his inaugural address in January, and his administration has stressed the value of freedom with each press conference about the fight against terrorism. "What price can you put on freedom?" he asked a reporter from the Washington Post last week when questioned about the mounting costs of the war in Iraq.
The answer turns out to be "enough to cover the national deficit."
In a surprise announcement, the White House has stated that America should begin considering liberty and freedom as commodities with a specific value, and that the production of these commodities should be taken into account when balancing the federal budget.
"My vision of a smaller government is a productive system that gives back to the people," said Bush in a press conference in the Rose Garden. "It's time we gave due credit to our production of freedom in Iraq and elsewhere in the world. Heck, people pay good money for elections, and we're just giving Iraq its own democracy. Their freedom will make the world a better place, and I think we ought to consider the value of that."
The original projections for the 2005 federal budget estimated a record deficit of $368 billion even before the war costs are added. However, the new formula proposed by the administration values each person's freedom at half a million dollars. According to this formula, the value of providing political freedom to Iraq's 25 million inhabitants is thus approximately 12.5 trillion dollars. If this value is used in calculating the federal budget, there will actually be a surplus exceeding 12 trillion dollars in 2005.
"This is hogwash," said Senator Harry Reid, democratic minority leader. "For one thing, if the administration is going to start adding value for freedom given overseas, they had damn well better also start subtracting value for freedom taken away right here. If you conservatively estimate that the freedom of the average American has declined by 20% due to provisions such as the Patriot Act, that's a loss of $100,000 times 295 million Americans... That would give us a net $17 trillion deficit even after factoring in the Iraqis' freedom. Do we really want to go there?"
Even some conservatives are hesitant to accept the validity of the president's proposed approach.
"Now don't get me wrong - I'm all about freedom," said Republican Senator George Voinovich. "But I have to say, I worry about factoring in even minor reductions in freedom here in the States. For one thing, we'd have to rate American freedom at a much higher value than freedom for people overseas. That would make even small changes big trouble for the bottom line."
The growing debate over the issue make it questionable whether the president's proposal will be accepted by Congress when it votes on the federal budget.
"The president is really opening a whole can of worms there," said Voinovich. "I really think it would be better if he just hid the deficit the old-fashioned way."