September 14, 2009

Crutsinger’s Crud, Part 3: AP Again Erroneously Cites Cost of Wars As Deficit Increase Factor

APabsolutelyPathetic0109Somebody really needs to find the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger some OCD therapy. It seems that he has a not-magnificent obsession with the two major theaters of the War on Terror (yeah, I still call it that), and that he seemingly won’t be able to conquer it without outside intervention.

In his report on August’s federal budget deficit, the AP reporter continued to cite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as contributors to the increase in the federal budget deficit, when they are in fact virtually if not totally irrelevant. Additionally, he betrayed a critical misunderstanding of how the government has decided to account for “investments” the Treasury Department has made in many financial entities, General Motors, and Chrysler.

This is the third consecutive month for Crutsinger’s war-connected crud:

  • In July (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), addressing June’s Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS), he wrote that “The deficit has been widened, and …. The cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also is a major factor.” Even if the entire $33 billion year-over-year increase in military spending at the time were due to those two wars (and it’s not, as NB commenter Arminius roughly demonstrated), that would have explained less than 5% of the $723 billion year-over-year deficit increase.
  • In reporting on July’s MTS in August (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Crutsinger falsely went to the military spending well again, citing “the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” as a major factor in the deficit increase. This time, the year-over-year defense spending increase of $40 billion compared to a deficit increase of $878 billion over the same period.

The third time’s not the charm, Martin. Here are key paragraphs from Crutsinger’s early Saturday report on the August MTS (bold after title is mine):

Federal deficit hits $1.38 trillion through August

The federal deficit surged higher into record territory in August, hitting $1.38 trillion with one month left in the budget year.

…. Private economists worry the country could face the grim prospect of seeing interest rates soar in future years and the dollar weaken as foreigners dump their U.S. holdings.

The Treasury Department said Friday that last month’s deficit was $111.4 billion, below the $152 billion that economists expected. Still, the imbalance added to a flood of red ink already accumulated through the recession and massive spending needed to stabilize the banking system.

The Obama administration last month trimmed its forecast for this year’s deficit to $1.58 trillion, from an earlier $1.84 trillion. The recovery of the banking system led to the reduced estimate as it meant the administration did not need to get an additional $250 billion in bailout support for banks.

The $1.58 trillion estimate for the full budget year signals that that administration expects the imbalance in September to be around $200 billion. That would be a sharp deterioration from September 2008 when the government closed out that budget year with a $45.7 billion surplus.

Many private economists have slightly smaller deficit estimates for the full year but all agree that 2009 will be a record-holder by a large margin. The previous record deficit in dollar terms was $454.8 billion last year.

The administration’s revised budget forecasts issued last month also underscored how much the government’s fiscal picture has deteriorated. It is now projecting the deficit over the next decade will total $9 trillion, $2 trillion more than its estimates from a few months ago.

The deterioration partly reflects the country’s deep recession, the worst since the 1930s. That downturn has cut into government receipts and pushed up spending in such areas as unemployment benefits and food stamps, along with the cost of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition, the government is using a $787 billion economic stimulus program passed by Congress last February to jump-start growth and is spending massive amounts from the $700 billion financial bailout package passed in October 2008 to stabilize the financial system.

So, here we go again.

This time, referring to Table 3 of the August Monthly Treasury Statement, total defense spending through eleven months of the fiscal year was $576 billion, up 6.3% from $542 billion at the same time last year. That $40 billion difference, which is narrower than last month’s cumulative $40 billion difference, hardly is “major” in the context of a total deficit increase of $867 billion so far this year ($1.378 trillion through August 31, compared to $511 billion last year).

Our year-over-year military spending in the two War on Terror theaters (oops, there I go again) has not increased that much, if at all; recall that the Surge took place largely in fiscal 2008. If Arminius’s 15% estimate for the cost of the two wars as a percentage of the total defense budget is accurate, you can’t possibly come up with a difference between the two fiscal years that would be a material percentage of the monstrous deficit increase.

Bigger contributors to the enlarged deficit on the spending side include the following:

  • HHS, up $76 billion, or 11.6%.
  • Department of Labor, up $70 billion, or 132% (you read that right).
  • Social Security Administration, up $60 billion, or roughly 10%.
  • “Other” (all within Treasury Department itself, not described in detail anywhere else), up $247 billion, or 229% (you read that right).

The deterioration in collections, which Crutsinger did mention, is a far, far bigger problem, as seen here:

USreceipts0809v0808

As the government defines them, receipts are down by about $365 billion. Receipts from economic activity, ignoring last year’s stimulus payments, which the government treated (in my opinion erroneously) as negative receipts, are down by about $450 billion, or over half of the $867 billion worsening of the year-over-year deficit.

Crutsinger’s claim that the “The recovery of the banking system led to the reduced (deficit) estimate (of $1.58 trillion) as it meant the administration did not need to get an additional $250 billion in bailout support for banks” is flat-out false. As I noted in late May (“The Federal Deficit Gets Nearly Indecipherable”), Treasury doesn’t characterize TARP and other “investments” as “outlays” any more, making whether or not funds were accessed irrelevant to the immediate deficit calculation.

Of much more relevance, and apparently not reflected in August’s MTS, are estimated TARP and other investment losses. Treasury’s investments in GM and Chrysler alone amount to $81 billion. To say that a lot of that isn’t coming back is drop-dead obvious, and in fact the government has conceded that point. The only question is what a good estimate of the loss should be when the fiscal year ends.

It will be interesting to see if Treasury attempts to mark its “investments” down to true “Net Present Value,” as it is supposed to under its convoluted accounting scheme, or if it will in the name of reporting a lower deficit try to pretend that their value is largely unimpaired. Write-downs are treated as “outlays” in the convoluted Net Present Value accounting Treasury uses, and would increase the deficit if recognized.

Based on his performance during this and prior months, it’s fair to ask whether Martin Crutsinger or other establishment media reporters will even know that they should follow up on this.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Whose Values Are at the Summit?

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 10:16 am

With permission, the following email was sent to Tony Perkins, head of Family Research Council in response to his “Value Voters Summit” commercial that has been running on local radio stations.

The ad invites people to attend the summit next weekend, September 18-20 and the first speaker they mention of course, is “Mitt Romney…” the man who has become this conservative’s “Newman!”

Dear Mr. Perkins,

As a once loyal advocate, I must speak the truth to you with as much love & respect as I can muster at this point. I heard your “Value Voters Summit” commercial on the radio today and was appalled at the line-up lead. My husband and I have spent a considerable amount of time (since 2004) vetting out the policies that Mitt Romney instituted in Massachusetts; and I cannot believe that you consider him a viable candidate let alone a credible source to speak at the VV forum.

In addition to the fact that without any legal precedence or binding statute, he single-handedly advanced gay “marriage” and $50 abortions-on-demand more so than the left could have ever dreamed; the economic mess in which his policies have left the state is unequivocal.

RomneyCare has devastated Masachusetts. And instead of manning-up and admitting that “universal healthcare” (two words that should NEVER come out of a conservative’s mouth) failed on his watch, his pride & arrogance continue to assert that “he” could still make it work nationally. Are you kidding me? With all that we know about universal healthcare?

The nickname that countless people (many of whom used to trust you) are giving him is “Mandate Mitt.” And in many circles, you are quickly becoming known as the man who enables him for reasons unknown. Although at this point, given all the facts, it simply looks as if you’ve been purchased. What could be worth being a kept man?

No one needs to trash Mr. Romney…his unrepentant defense of his detrimental policies have accomplished that much. But he should be held accountable as others have, for not doing so is why this country is at its particular crossroads…and you I’m afraid, are complicit.

There is a way to be truthful AND gracious without compromising your principles. If you don’t find that way, FRC will become as obsolete as the Republican Party.

Funny, the Summit schedule doesn’t have Mitt Romney speaking with those on traditional marriage. I wonder why…

Nor is he included on the healthcare discussion. I wonder why…

Mitt Romney, ladies and gentlemen, Human Events’ #8th-ranked RINO in 2005. The unmitigated moderate over whom conservative women swoon is STILL being shoved down our throats by those who claim to be fighting the good fight on our behalf.

Clearly, Mitt’s millions have left many too spellbound to see that he will morph into any position necessary in order to grab the power that those millions could not buy last year.

My guess is that a slot at the Value Voters Summit will turn out to be an awful expensive consolation prize…for both organizers and their “main attraction.”

ACORN: Strike Three

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:59 am

ACORN Baltimore.

ACORN DC.

Now ACORN New York City:

ACORN’s hysteria now includes their self-equation with Willie Horton in 1988 (or “Willy Horton” — zheesh, they can’t even spell).

Horton was a furloughed Massachusetts convict who disappeared and went on to commit criminal acts, including rape.

Two points about Horton:

  • If ACORN wants to equate itself with a criminal and rapist, by all means, go right ahead.
  • For the record, it was Democrat Al Gore who first brought up the Massachusetts furlough program during the 1988 presidential primaries against Michael Dukakis:

GoreDukakisDebate041388

Dukakis, as seen above, “staunchly defended” the program, making every aspect of it fair game for the general presidential election. Leftists haven’t stopped whining for 20 years about this. Too bad, so sad, you were had.

The criminal enterprise known as ACORN and the rest of its entities must be defunded.

Positivity: Mexican states with pro-life constitutions now at 16

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Mexico City:

Sep 11, 2009 / 05:25 pm

The State Congress of Oaxaca has passed a constitutional reform making it the 16th Mexican state to protect human life from abortion. The reform guarantees that human life will be protected from conception to natural death.

A press release from the Congress indicated 31 votes in favor of the changes to the State constitution granting legal protection to the unborn. “The inhabitants of the State shall enjoy all of the rights and freedoms enshrined in this Constitution, without distinction of origin, race, color, sex, language, creed, public opinion, social condition or position,” the new text reads.

State representatives said that the new measure is intended to strengthen the family, where respect for life begins. Without respect for the fundamental right to life, they said, “the rest of individual rights could not exist.” The dignity of the human person shall be defended, especially that of the women and children of Oaxaca, they continued, as “with the new constitutional norms the rights of the mother and the unborn are not in conflict, nor is one place above the other. Both complement each other,” they stressed. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.

AP’s Fouhy, In Analysis of 2010 Congressional Landscape, Calls GOP Base ‘Confused’ on ObamaCare

APabsolutelyPathetic0109

In a Sunday “uh-oh” review of 2010′s electoral landscape as it applies to nationwide congressional races, the Associated Press’s Beth Fouhy insulted GOP voters while effectively implying that they are the only ones who oppose ObamaCare, “reckless spending, and high debt.”

The foundation of Fouhy’s piece is a fear that Democrats may be in peril of losing their House majority in 2010. Funny, when they were in the minority and gaining ground in national sentiment, I recall that the press meme was “Democrats Gaining!” Now that they’re in control and faltering, it’s “Democrats in Danger of Losing (Somebody Do Something)!” The perspective always seems to be about the rising or falling fortunes of Democrats, which of course serves to validate the contention of those who say that the establishment press is the mouthpiece of the Left and the Democratic Party.

Now let’s look at Fouhy’s infuriating fulminations (red underline is mine):

APon2010CongressRaces091309

Yes, Beth Fouhy called the GOP base “confused” about ObamaCare. In Beth’s world, those rubes in the GOP base are just too dense to understand the infinite wisdom of Dear Leader’s healthcare contraption. Additionally, the administration’s spending and high debt really aren’t reckless, they’re only “considered” so by those same dummies.

No Beth, millions of people, many if not most of them not in whatever remains of the “GOP base,”  aren’t “confused” by ObamaCare. They know and understand what’s in it quite well. The also understand that the President is bitterly clinging to fundamental untruths about his and his party’s designs on the healthcare system.

Specifically, as I pointed out on Thursday at BizzyBlog (last item at link), to believe that Barack Obama and his party are telling the truth, you have to believe that each and every one of the following are lying:

  • The Congressional Budget Office (in five different instances cited by Doug Ross).
  • On coverage of illegal immigrants, Senator Robert Menendez and La Raza.
  • Obama himself, in previous years, in several ways, not the least of which is his previous video-captured support for a single-payer system.
  • In regards to the provision for coverage of abortions — Every pro-life organization and publication that I’m aware of that has read various versions of proposed legislation; Fouhy’s own Associated Press, which has said it’s in there; and roughly one dozen Democratic congresspersons on Matt Drudge’s list of supposed health care “reform” opponents, who in essence acknowledged in a June 25 letter that abortion coverage is in proposed legislation.

This list barely scratches the surfacce. The list of others who must be lying for Barack Obama and the Democrats to be telling the truth on health care legislation is actually much, much longer.

Does this “confuse” you, Beth?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.