President Bush promised to cut the deficit in half during this term, so he starts his cost-cutting crusade with an inflated deficit number.
The real 2004 budget deficit was $412 billion dollars, so he adds another $109 billion to make his deficit target half of $521 billion.
It’s a lie, pure and simple, that betrays the trust of every American, whatever their political persuasion.
So where did this number come from? The White House and thin air.
And the White House has used it deceptively before.
Last year, when it became apparent that the deficit was going to be over $400 billion dollars, the White House started saying that the deficit might be as big as $521 billion. The idea was simple spin: once the real budget came in, they planned to say: "Look, we did better than expected." At the time, that number was seen for what it was – flimflam – and not taken seriously by most of the business community. [Bushies About to Spin the Deficit 07/28/04] (Story links open in new windows)
It’s just hocus-pocus this year, too.
With that for openers, Bush then goes on to shape-shift on his promise of fiscal responsibility.
Until this year, he was promising to cut the deficit in half in absolute dollars. This year, he has weaseled that into reducing the deficit as a share of the economy. With this new approach, the deficit could stay as big as it is yet still be considered "reduced" as the economy grows.
Then, to make it easier to hoodwink us into thinking he was successful, he simply omits a number of deficit-raising items.
That’s right – he simply doesn’t count very major expenditures that will be made.
The military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Not counted in the budget, even though this already eliminates $80 billion in a supplemental request before Congress and will require at least another $50 -100 billion over the next year, an unknown amount for the full extent of the American occupation.
Alternative minimum tax "reform?"
Not counted, even though this would add $44 billion to the deficit in 2009.
Extending the expiring tax cuts?
Not counted, even though this will cost nearly $3 trillion over the next ten years.
Privatization of Social Security?
Not counted, even though this would cost $750 billion over the next ten years.
If you ran your budget like this, I’d be waving to you as I passed you in your new home under the over-pass.
If I were a conservative (I am, fiscally), I’d worry. Your leader’s approach to fiscal matters is irrational and potentially very destructive to the quality of life in America
At this point, I can read your mind: you’re echoing the spin that deficits don’t matter except as a percentage of GDP.
That’s wrong, too.
Even Bush’s top economic adviser, N. Gregory Mankiw, tells us that a government deficit "pulls resources away from investment in new capital and, thereby, depresses the living standards of future generations."
Serious, non-partisan economists agree:
"Two international economic watchdogs warned that President Bush’s budget plans will make the U.S. and other countries poorer in the long run.
"The International Monetary Fund (IMF) … estimates that even if the budget deficit is cut in half from $521 billion [they got caught in the spin, too] by 2009, as the Bush Administration projects, U.S. gross domestic product would be 1.4% lower by 2020… For the world, GDP will ultimately be 2.6% lower by 2050.
"Yesterday’s report was the latest in a drumbeat of warnings from the IMF in recent years about the deteriorating U.S. budget picture. Like the others, it is likely to fall on deaf ears." [IMF, OECD See Economic Risks In Bush's Budget Wall Street Journal subscription]
It’s not just a matter of duplicity, although I certainly expected better from a born-again Christian – Bush’s mishandling of the budget will hurt this country and the world forever.