The Bush budget

Brad DeLong wonders why the Washington Post is printing hilariously inaccurate White House spin on the budget as if it were fact.

Business Week provides some of the gory details, and in its whiny, partisan fashion uses the word “lie” to describe the budget’s relationship to the facts.

Daniel Gross at Slate points out that the revenue numbers are probably hoked as well, judging by the administration’s past performance. Revenue next year is supposed to grow by 13% over this year, an estimate for which there seems to be no reasonable basis.

Paul Krugman points out that the administration’s post-9-11 projection for this year’s deficit was $14 billion, giving you some idea of how much to trust projections five years out.

Eric Umansky, also at Slate, has a round-up of the press coverage under the headline “Fudge-it Budget,” reporting that everyone is skeptical but only the Wall Street Journal is appropriately hard-hitting:

“Among the gimmicks: failing to provide for the future cost of occupying Iraq, which Mr. Bush’s budget director suggests could cost as much as $50 billion in 2005; pledging steep cuts in some popular programs that Congress will probably reject; and anticipating large savings by making the federal government operate more efficiently, a timeworn budget pledge that rarely pays off as expected.”

Umansky reports that shrill, whiny, partisan sniping at the veracity of the Prevaricator-in-Chief’s numbers is remarkably widespread and bipartisan:

“I don’t think you’ll find anybody in any party who takes seriously the administration’s promise to hold down spending,” one conservative economist told the NY Times. “It is all fantasy,” one Republican staffer told the LAT. Pondering the White House’s plan to cut the deficit, the Republican chairman of the all-powerful House Appropriations Committee said, “The numbers simply do not add up.”

[In political terms, there are two issues here. One is that the credit-card conservatives are doing serious long-term damage to the economy. That is something some voters will understand, and that a subset of those who understand it will care deeply about. The other is that the word of the President of the United States isn’t worth the spit behind it. That’s something everyone will understand, and that almost everyone will care about.

Repeat after me: Honest and integrity. Honesty and integrity. Honesty and integrity. Character issue. Character issue. Character issue.]

Don’t worry, though. The President is being fiscally responsible. He’s cutting half a billion dollars from the clean water budget and wants to wipe out Federal grants for arts programs in the schools.

Update: Tom Maguire, hitherto a Bush supporter, sums it up:

Bush must think we are as stupid as some of us think he is.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

3 thoughts on “The Bush budget”

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  3. The Character of Our Leaders, Part III

    So if policies for alleviating poverty are an important measuring stick of a politician’s character (Part II), how should we assess George Bush’s policies in this area, and what judgments can we reach? First things first. An election season is

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