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State of the Union Figures
I've decided not to write a lengthy analysis of President Bush's State of the Union Address. It wasn't a particularly gripping or important-seeming speech. But there were a few things that I can't let pass without comment.
The man who signed into law the largest entitlement expansion in decades — the Medicare prescription drug benefit — does not deserve any credit for restrained spending. Period. The language here is very misleading. Bush is taking credit for "reduc[ing] the growth of" (not "cutting") "non-security discretionary" spending. That pile of adjectives means he's talking about a very small piece of the pie. If you look at Table S-10 from the Fiscal Year 2006 budget you'll find these interesting figures:
Non-defense discretionary spending is only 19.35% of the budget! President Bush has cut slowed the growth of spending on only a fifth of the budget. What's the other 80% doing?
I watched the speech with a group of friends. After we laughed about the "non-security discretionary" bit for a little while, one said "that really sounded good at first!" Yes it did. Perhaps the White House was hoping that people wouldn't be paying close attention to what was said.
They're 42% of the budget already, George. The future is sooner than you think. Incidentally, what fraction of that predicted 60% is due to your beloved Medicare prescription drug benefit?
In 2004, the United States produced almost 2 billion barrels of crude oil and imported roughly 4.8 billion barrels of crude oil. Only about 900 million barrels were imported from the Persian Gulf region — 13.5% of our total crude oil usage. For scale, domestic production covered 29.2% of our total crude oil usage.
President Bush's goal of replacing 75% of our mideast imports means sourcing only 3.36% of our crude oil from the mideast, down from 13.5%. That's right, this goal only affects about 10% of our oil sourcing. Now it sounds rather small, doesn't it?
But all this is beside the point. Oil trades on a global market and oil sources are more-or-less easily substitutable. Our oil sourcing has more to do with transportation costs than geopolitics. And it will remain that way unless the government starts to forbid purchases from certain suppliers. Which would go over very badly with the industry.