by Inlander Staff
"What would you not do?" -- That's the rhetorical question President Bush's Budget Director Mitch Daniels posed to reporters last month when he released the president's budget, which includes a $307 billion deficit and does not take into account the cost of a war with Iraq. Daniels was referring to defense spending, but in the days to follow, a variety of interest groups offered up precisely what they would not do, as reported in the New York Times. Here's a sample:

$75,000 -- That's how much of a write-off Americans will be able to get out of this new budget if they drive an SUV for their business that weighs more than 6,000 pounds (like a Hummer or a Navigator). The Natural Resources Defense Council would prefer that the government not do this.

$1.5 billion -- The Cato Institute, a small-government think tank, says this amount earmarked to fund development of a hydrogen car over the next five years is silly. Research and development is the auto industry's job, the Institute argues, and the $1 billion spent on hybrid cars under Clinton led to exactly zero American cars fitting that description. Meanwhile, with no subsidy, Honda and Toyota have brought hybrids to market. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group that advocates for unfettered markets, adds that making hydrogen requires fossil fuels, so energy dependence may not be cut.

$2 billion -- That's how much could be saved over the next decade if federal money is cut off from helping private logging companies harvest national forests, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan group.

$17 billion -- The Competitive Enterprise Institute believes that the amount scheduled to be spent on farm subsidies will not help struggling farmers; instead it will go to large, already successful agribusiness giants.

Zero -- That's how many Comanche helicopters have been built for the Army after spending 20 years and $8.3 billion. Taxpayers for Common Sense want this program eliminated from the budget.

1 percent -- Citizens for Tax Justice, a group that advocates fair taxes and a balanced federal budget, points out that primarily upper-crust Americans would benefit from the president's proposal to make stock dividends tax-exempt. Granting such a break would cost the federal Treasury $364 billion a year.

Publication date: 02/13/03

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