(AFP) - In
the midst of negotiating a steep tax cuts package,
the US government shelved a report that showed
the United States faces future federal budget
deficits of more than 44.2 trillion dollars.
President George W. Bush (news - web sites)'s
administration chose to keep the findings -- commissioned
by then-Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill -- out
of the 2004 annual budget report, published in
February, London's Financial Times reported.
newspaper described the study as "the most comprehensive
assessment of how the US government is at risk
of being overwhelmed by the 'baby boom' generation's
future healthcare and retirement costs."
Financial Times hinted that the decision not to
publish the report may have been because the White
House was campaigning for a massive tax-cut package
that critics claim will expand future deficits.
study, according to the same source, said that
sharp tax increases, massive spending cuts or
both are unavoidable if the US is to meet benefit
promises to future generations.
"It estimates that closing the gap would require
the equivalent of an immediate and permanent 66
percent across-the-board income tax increase,"
the Financial Times said.
study was being circulated as an independent working
paper among Washington think-tanks as Bush on
Wednesday signed into law a 10-year, 350-billion-dollar
tax-cut package he welcomed as a victory for hard-working
Americans and the economy," the newspaper said.
Kent Smetters, then-Treasury deputy assistant
secretary for economic policy, and Jagdessh Gokhale,
then a consultant to the Treasury, were in charge
of the analysis, the newspaper said.
"When we were conducting the study, my impression
was that it was slated to appear (in the budget).
At some point, the momentum builds and you think
everything is a go, and then the decision came
down that we weren't part of the prospective budget,"
Gokhale was quoted a saying in the front-page
O'Neill, who was fired last December, refused
to comment, according to the same source.
Bush administration has come under severe criticism
for the tax cuts package, which come on top of
a 10-year 1.65 trillion tax cut program enacted
in 2001, at a time when the US
economy is sputtering and unemployment is steadily
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