Comparison Shopping

by Lindsay Sobel

The American Prospect magazine, April 2001


George W. Bush has crisscrossed the country touting his top political priority-a giant tax cut. While consistently exaggerating the benefit to the middle class, he has unfailingly neglected to mention that he would give the wealthiest 1 percent of families 43 percent of the tax cuts. The tax break for the top 1 percent amounts to $774 billion over 10 years. Here is a look at what else the country could do with that whopping lump of cash over the next decade (mostly based on year 2000 expenditures). Shop for yourself.

* New Teachers. Pay almost two million teachers' salaries for 10 years.

* Student Aid. Increase the federal Pell Grant budget 88-fold or multiply federal student loans 18 times.

* Class-Size Reductions. Multiply federal spending for smaller classes in the nation's schools 193 times.

* Preschool. Fund preschool for all of the nation's four-year-olds almost eight times over (based on a cost estimate by the Brookings Institution's Isabel Sawhill).

* Crumbling Schools. Multiply federal contributions to school renovation by a factor of 59 (compared with the estimated expenditure for 2001).

* Police Officers. Pay two million police officers' salaries for 10 years.

* Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. Multiply federal spending on substance abuse and mental health services 29 times.

* National Health Research. Quadruple the National Institutes of Health's budget or increase funding for the National Cancer Institute 234-fold.

* Prescription Drugs. Fully fund a comprehensive Medicare prescription drug benefit for senior citizens (see "Bush's Prescriptions" on facing page).

* Family Support. Nearly quadruple the federal outlays, for welfare, child care, and child support enforcement. ,

* Housing Assistance. More than quadruple federal, housing assistance. ~

* Domestic Food Aid. Multiply spending on the supple- ,. mental food program Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) 19 times or almost quadruple the federal Food Stamp budget. ~

* International Food Aid. Increase food assistance to j foreign countries 97-fold.

* Transportation Spending. Double the amount that Washington spends to support mass transit, highways, and aviation.

* Natural Resources and the Environment. Triple the total expenditures on natural resources, pollution control, and Superfund cleanup.

* Farm Support. Quadruple what the nation pays to stabilize farm income.

* Family Tax Credits. Triple-fund the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor and the child tax credit.

* Middle-Class Tax Cuts. More than double Bush's tax cut for the bottom 80 percent of Americans.

Reordering America's Priorities

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