Thursday, June 9, 2005
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One of my favorite Simpsons moments is when Homer is watching a TV set showing Prairie Home Companionís Garrison Keillor -- at which point he bangs on the set and says, "Be funnier!!"
That moment came to my head when I read this Jackie Calmes report in the Wall Street Journal that this year's budget deficit is smaller than projected:
Why did I think of that moment? Because Bolten's comment was so absurd that I was tempted to bang the computer and yell "Spin better!!"
Finding out that the annual budget deficit is 20% smaller than previously should be manna from heaven for the administration. And there's an excellent line for the explanation -- the administration's policies have fostered faster-than expected economic growth which has increased tax revenues. So if I were working for the administration, I'd say, "With the president's focus on growing the economy, we're seeing an improved balance sheet for the government." That's spin in the best sense -- accentuating your positive attibutes.
What I wouldn't mention is "the president's focus on spending discipline," which brings up two unformortable facts: a) this administration has no spending discipline; and b) combine that with a Congress that loves to spend as well and you've got widening deficits for some time.posted by Dan on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM
Six of one, half dozen of another, it seems to me. Spending discipline doesn't exist now, but could be imposed later; economic growth is better than expected now, but could be worse later -- especially if the housing bubble, one of its primary drivers, starts to deflate.
It's true that this administration, even more than the last one, is zeroed in on its domestic audience, especially when it is talking about the economy. This doesn't mean its every statement conforms to a sophisticated design. Lots of administration statements, including this one, are improvisations on the spur of the moment. Right now it is getting (or anticipating) criticism for lack of spending discipline, and Bolten's statement is the response to that, nothing more.posted by: Zathras on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
They've got me so confused I can't ever tell what they're trying to tell me. Do these numbers include the cost of the war? They move those costs in and out of the budget so often, I can't get a handle on what set of books they're talking.
"Unformortable"?posted by: Bob McHenry on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
How is a reduction from $412 billion to $350 billion a 20% reduction?posted by: Bernard Yomtov on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
I think the idea is that deficit estimate is about 20% less as a share of the overall economy. That is, the projected deficit is smaller, the economy is larger. But Dan's post doesn't include all the numbers one would need to say for certain that the 20% figure is right.posted by: Zathras on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
What I don't understand is why the goal here is simply a slighty slower rate of increasing the debt. Shouldn't the goal be something difficult, like balancing the budget? Whenever I hear pols talk about their goal of ever so gently reducing the deficit, I want to ask them, "Do you think I'm an idiot?"posted by: Horatio on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
Even better goal: pay down debt.posted by: Horatio on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
I think the idea is that deficit estimate is about 20% less as a share of the overall economy. That is, the projected deficit is smaller, the economy is larger. But Dan's post doesn't include all the numbers one would need to say for certain that the 20% figure is right.
My algebra suggests that this implies a 6.2% growth in GDP.
I don't think we're seeing that. Isn't growth around 3.5%? To be fair, that gives 18%, assuming the numbers are kosher.posted by: Bernard Yomtov on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
Drez: Because Bolten's comment was so absurd that I was tempted to bang the computer and yell "Spin better!!"
Suffice to say that you're not exactly within the target audience of this spin.posted by: fling93 on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
Frickin' Boomers.posted by: Yo on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
Bernard Yomtov: you also have to account for inflation. $412M is in 2004 dollars, $350M would be in 2005 dollars. So, "20% less" requires 6.2% growth in nominal GDP (not real GDP) which is plausible.posted by: Adrian on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
Just for the sake of correctness...Homer says: "Stupid TV...be more funny!"posted by: Seth on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
Why doesn't Mr Drezner give his readers the REAL facts?
Fact One, the federal debt projected for 2010 is now
Note that I say "stolen" because when Bush takes $200,000 from
What's hysterically funny about this con game is that millions of
But in order to pay off Bush's debt , future administrations --
The second thing that's hilarious is that the voters don't realize
So why doesn't Academician Daniel Drezner mention these major
Second question, when Drezner hits the TV , why does he yell
Oops. Left out a number in the above post. What I meant to say was:
Note also that the top 8% of the income bracket should pay most of the federal debt --given that they own most of the national wealth and receive most of the national income.
What Bush did via his income tax cut, however, was
Middle Class Republicans will have their life savings in 401Ks and IRAs confiscated because those assets are in "before tax" status and can be taxed as high as the government wants when the money is withdrawn at retirement. (One of the reasons why the government has encouraged the middle class to put its savings into the IRA/401K TRAP.)
Future governments won't be able to "soak the rich" to pay off Bush's debts --even though Bush
Again, Mr Drezner should know this. So why isn't he warning you?
My step dad, a committed republican, but otherwise a gentleman of great scruples has tryed to explain why the deficit is like a balloon; it gets larger, it gets smaller, its different sizes have different effects, for better or worse. If thats true, and GW seems so sanguine about the deficit that he must believe the same thing, we should borrow more. If its ok to have 400 billion in debt, why is 800 billion so bad? Or 16 bil? Less debt is great but more is ( and always will be) more spending money. And thats what Republicans are all about. So carry on!
My beloved step dad could not counter this.
Newt rolls in his political grave. Or he should anyway.posted by: exclab on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
I remember when they buried Gingrich. The reason put out was that he had irresponsibly closed down the government to get it disciplined. His demise induced nodding and approval of sage heads. Republican and Democrat heads. "Had to be done," They all said. And the rave continues to this day fueled by an extasy of credit.
Let no good deed go unpunished.posted by: exclab on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
Good point.posted by: Bernard Yomtov on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
Are we still not including the costs of the wars in the budget reports? If not, that makes a huge difference.posted by: Brian on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
Note that I say "stolen" because when Bush takes $200,000 from your Social Security account and gives you a US Treasury in return, the US Bond says that your Social Security account gets the money back only if YOU --not Mr Bush and not the Republican Congresses -- pay the money back in future taxes. What would we call a banker who pulled such a scam?
Dunno -- what would we call a consumer who believed he had a bank account based on the mere fact that the bank opened up a branch in his neighborhood?
(Hint: there is no "your Social Security account." It's not yours. That's why the government can exchange the money for government bonds.)posted by: David Nieporent on 06.09.05 at 10:20 AM [permalink]
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