The deficit and Obama’s spending plans

This season’s euphemism of choice appears to be “economic justice.”

Once Democrats recapture the White House, “we’ll ensure that economic justice is served,” promises Barack Obama.

In that usage, “economic justice” means “punishing the successful and redistributing their wealth by government fiat,” explains Investor’s Business Daily. “It’s a euphemism for socialism.”

What will that cost?

Summarizing the wealth transfers promised by Mr. Obama to date (the Democrat seeks camouflage by calling them “investments”) IBD in a July 28 editorial lists “universal, guaranteed” health care; “free” college tuition; “universal national service” (a concept familiar from totalitarian lands including Cuba); “universal 401(k)s” (in which the government would match contributions made by “low- and moderate-income families,” only); “free” job training”; “wage insurance”; “free” child care and “universal” preschool; a fatter earned income tax credit for the “working poor” — and even a “Global Poverty Act that amounts to a Marshall Plan for the Third World, first and foremost Africa.”

Barack Obama’s “new New Deal” would also guarantee a new “living wage,” with a $10 minimum wage indexed to inflation, IBD reports, as well as “fair trade” and “fair labor practices,” with “breaks for ‘patriot employers’ who kowtow to unions and that’s just for starters — first-term stuff.”

It’s a program of redistribution that would cost an additional $130 billion per year, the Tax Policy Center says — accompanied by a planned reduction of $2.7 trillion in tax collections over the next decade if Sen. Obama follows through with his proposal to slash taxes for the middle class and “working poor.”

Problem is, the Bush White House admitted Monday that — thanks to accelerating inflation and slowing economic growth — the budget deficit will grow not just to $407 billion next year as previously estimated, but to $482 billion, even without Sen. Obama’s new spending spree.

That means that — without a single new “program” — the federal government is on track to spend 3.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product next year … and put it all on the credit card.

Even that’s “not the real number,” warns former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neill, who says the White House projection is unrealistic.

The White House is estimating the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could cost $70 billion next year. Mr. O’Neill says to triple that. The White House estimates 2.2 percent economic growth next year — many warn it could be 1.7 percent.

“It’s upward of $500 billion and counting,” warns Mr. O’Neill. “It’s a mind-boggling number.”

Both candidates have lambasted the Bush administration for the situation, Republican John McCain calling it a “sad legacy” and declaring, “There is no more striking reminder of the need to reverse the profligate spending that has characterized this administration’s fiscal policy.”

Sen. McCain’s economic plans have drawn their own critics from the left, who ask how he will “pay for” $3.6 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade.

But those tax cuts won’t cost Americans anything — they’ll leave us an additional $3.6 trillion to spend on our families or invest as we see fit. They’ll only “cost” bureaucrats who assume they have a prior claim to ever more of our paychecks.

This should be a huge issue for Sen. McCain.

“We know we’re leaving our children all these unfunded liabilities,” warns Leonard E. Burman, former Treasury official and now director of the Tax Policy Center. “Piling on hundreds of billions in additional deficits just seems grossly irresponsible.”

The kind of money Sen. Obama wants to spend, coupled with his proposed tax hikes on investment earnings, would worsen our current economic doldrums, sending investment capital fleeing in search of foreign markets where investors get to keep more than 37.2 cents of every dollar earned. That would be bad enough, even without the fact that the programs Sen. Obama wants to spend the money on would move us further into a government controlled economy than ever before.

All John McCain needs to do is spell it out. Real loud.

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