Celebrating a $1.3 trillion deficit?

I had to check the date on this Washington Post article, just to make sure it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke.  Apparently, the White House wants us to take seriously the notion that merely overspending by $1.3 trillion, rather than the projected $1.6 trillion, demonstrates their commitment to fiscal discipline.  The headline writer at the Post must be in on the joke, titling the report “Obama team points to smaller deficit numbers”:

The federal deficit is running significantly lower than it did last year, with the budget gap for the first half of fiscal 2010 down 8 percent over the same period a year ago, senior Obama administration officials said Monday.

The officials attributed the results to higher tax revenue and to lower spending than projected on bailing out the financial system. If the trend continues for the rest of the year, it would mean the annual deficit would be $1.3 trillion — about $300 billion less than the administration’s projection two months ago for 2010.

But by suggesting the deficit may have peaked, administration officials are taking a political gamble. If the favorable number does not hold up in coming months and the budget shortfall surpasses the $1.4 trillion recorded last year, voters in the November midterm elections could punish the Democrats for offering false hope.

False hope of what, exactly?  That the second Obama deficit and the fourth Democratic Congress deficit will somehow not exceed three times the size of the worst Republican deficit from 2001-6?  News flash to the Post and the White House: a $1,288,000,000,000 deficit still means that Congress spent $1,288,000,000,000 more than they had, just in one year.

Don’t get fooled by that 8% reduction argument, either.  The highest deficit from the Republican Congress came in FY2004 at $400 billion, which was far too high.  Democrats in Congress matched that in FY2008 and then quadrupled it in FY2009, the first budget Obama signed via the omnibus spending bill in March 2009.  Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid blocked from George Bush’s veto pen through continuing resolutions.  The math on 400%-8% is still  392% in the wrong direction.

The Post headline writer may get an award for keeping a straight face while performing his duties, but at least their graphics department manages to put this into perspective:

I’ve seen sales pitches before, but none this vapid and intellectually dishonest. Instead of Hope and Change, we’re getting snake oil and shell games.

Update: Quadrupled, not quintupled. My apologies for the error, which I’ve corrected above.

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John Sexton 10:00 PM on June 02, 2023