A Preview of the State of the Union: More Concealed Costs?

Bush has made a specialty of proposing policies that are tremendously expensive without actually addressing their costs. Some examples include:

  • Tax cuts. Stated cost by Bush before the fact: none. The claim was that they would boost the economy so much that tax revenue would increase. Actual cost: hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
  • War in Iraq. Stated cost by Bush before the fact: none. As Paul Wolfowitz said, “Such estimates are so dependent on future, unpredictable circumstances as to be of little value.” Actual cost: $100bn so far and counting.
  • Moon and Mars bases. Stated cost by Bush before the fact: $1 billion. Someone at some point in the future will presumably pay for and accomplish these missions, after all; Bush is just in charge of getting the vision started. Actual cost: We’ll see, but estimates are in the neighborhood of $130 to $250 billion.

So, what new costless, extremely expensive proposals can we expect tonight in Bush’s State of the Union speech? Privatizing Social Security might be one, making the 2001 tax cuts permanent might be another… but we’ll just have to wait and see to know for sure.