With the president’s budget proposal arriving on Capitol Hill, ABC’s Charlie Gibson told viewers that the “massive new plan would squeeze domestic programs” and asked if Congress would “go along.” Reporting the story, ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl pushed liberal Democratic complaints about social spending, but failed to find conservatives to comment on the heavy cost of entitlements like Medicare.
“The president sent his budget to Capitol Hill today. He proposes spending – and you really need to see the number written out. Two trillion, nine hundred billion dollars. That is eleven zeroes,” Gibson noted on the February 5 “World News.”
Reporter Karl picked up the story, hammering home to viewers the “staggering” war-related costs in the budget.
Karl noted that war-related expenses will “come through loud and clear in the president’s budget” with an 11-percent increase in Defense Department spending and a 13-percent boost for the Department of Veterans Affairs, “the biggest agency increase” in the fiscal year 2008 budget.
After airing a clip of liberal Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) complaining about the cost of the Iraq war, Karl pointed to areas where the Bush administration plans to make reductions in the growth of government spending.
Karl picked out President Bush’s plan to reduce Medicaid costs “by $12 billion and farm subsidies by $18 billion over five years,” but failed to put into perspective how quickly those spending items will still increase under the president’s budget.
Indeed, if the Medicaid funding request gets through Congress unaltered, the budget baseline would continue “to grow at a robust average annual rate of more than seven percent,” according to the Office of Management and Budget. To put that into perspective, that’s twice the rate at which the overall U.S. economy expanded in 2006.
And while Karl found room to air complaints from Senate Democrats who call war spending out-of-control, he failed to air comment from conservatives who generally point to entitlement spending as a long-term threat to the taxpayer.
“The challenge posed by long-term entitlements is daunting. Between now and 2050, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid costs are projected to surge from 8.7 percent of GDP to 19.0 percent,” Heritage Foundation budget watcher Brian Riedl wrote on February 5. “Consider that an equivalently sized tax increase today – raising taxes by 10.3 percent of GDP – would amount to $13,457 per household,” the Heritage fellow added.