Recovery from Attacks Could ‘Wipe Out’ 2002 Budget Surplus
Proposals by the White House and Congress for up to $180 billion in tax cuts and spending increases in the wake of last week's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon would "wipe out" the estimated $170 billion to $180 billion FY 2002 budget surplus, including the Medicare Part A and Social Security trust funds, the Los Angeles Times reports. The proposals are intended to "repair economic damage" from last week's terrorist attacks and "head off [a] recession" (Gosselin, Los Angeles Times, 9/20). In August, the White House Office of Management and Budget projected a $173 billion surplus in FY 2002, down from an estimated $231 billion in April. Excluding Social Security, OMB estimated a $1 billion surplus in FY 2002 (California Healthline, 8/23). The Congressional Budget Office reported similar figures in August (California Healthline, 9/4).
Meanwhile, NPR's "Morning Edition" reports that although lawmakers have shifted their agenda in the aftermath of last week's terrorist attacks, the Bush administration does not want Congress "to ignore [domestic policy] completely." For example, White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer said that patients' rights legislation "remains important." Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) said that Congress should not ignore domestic policy, including health care issues such as Medicare reform. "Morning Edition" reports that although health care concerns have moved from "the front of the front burner politically" to the "back burner," lobbyists still plan to address the issues. A spokesperson for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare said that the group will "make sure we do what we have to do to keep [health care] issues on the radar screen." To listen to the full report in Real Audio, go to http://search.npr.org/cf/cmn/cmnpd01fm.cfm?PrgDate=09/20/2001&PrgID=3 after noon EST (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 9/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.