Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...


Friday, February 06, 2004  

Today's one of those funny days when everyone's thinking the same thing.

Listen to Krugman and Dionne:

The trouble is that accepting that excuse requires forgetting a lot of recent history. By February 2002, when the administration released its fiscal 2003 budget, all of the bad news — the bursting of the bubble, the recession, and, yes, 9/11 — had already happened. Yet that budget projected only a $14 billion deficit this year, and a return to surpluses next year. Why did that forecast turn out so wrong? Because administration officials fudged the facts, as usual.

It misleadingly claims that the government is on a path to cut the deficit in half in five years. It denies that the president's tax program is a big part of the fiscal mess we're in. It deflects election-year criticism by shoving the most difficult budget cuts until after Nov. 2. It hides the lengths to which the administration will go to protect its tax cuts for the wealthy.

Yes, that first paragraph was Krugman, the second EJ. Editorial mind meld. But wait, still on the budget deficits, Brad DeLong, writing for the Center for American Progress, picks up the thread.

You'll have an easy time finding the Bush administration's official deficit forecast for 2009: $237 billion.... You'll find news reporters writing with a straight face about Bush's "confidence" that the deficit can be halved by 2009 alongside big boosts in Defense and Homeland Security spending and the extension of all the Bush tax cuts.

Finally, we conclude with the Economist, the sorriest mag in the world (they've been beating themselves up since endorsing Bush in 2000).

If this all looks too good to be true, it is. For once, the administration has not fiddled the books by relying on unrealistically high growth rates in the coming years; but it has relied on other fibs. For a start, the budget does not factor in the future costs of keeping soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan: even Mr Bush's own budget director says costs could be as much as $50 billion for Iraq alone in 2005. Then the usual implausible savings are found from “waste, fraud and abuse”. Third, all the president's cuts are to fall on the one-fifth of the total budget that counts as domestic discretionary spending—hardly likely to happen in an election year.

Read those four paragraphs in a row, and you'll see they could all have come from the same article. And when Paul Krugman and the Economist are writing the same article about Bush's budget, you know something's up.

posted by Jeff | 2:23 PM |
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