October 8, 2011

AP Unbylined Report on CBO’s Fiscal 2011 Deficit Estimate Avoids All the Big Messy Numbers

You would think that an Associated Press story about the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary estimate of the federal government’s full fiscal year results would include things like total federal collections and total spending during the year and how they compared to the previous year.

Don’t be silly. If the AP let numbers that big — and their direction — get into its report, readers and listeners might start thinking that spending is outrageously high, and that increasing taxes to try to cover today’s ridiculous levels of spending would crucify the economy. We can’t have that, not when President Obama and Democrats are desperately pushing for taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” who earn $250,000 or more per year. What follows are excerpts from the writeup, followed by important and obvious facts AP chose not to report:

CBO estimates $1.3 trillion deficit for 2011

A government report released on Friday predicts that the federal budget hit a near-record $1.3 trillion in the just-completed fiscal year.

The figure matches last year’s deficit tally but shows slight improvement over a record set two years ago.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis is in line with previous estimates but offers yet another reminder of the government’s precarious fiscal position – just as a congressional supercommittee is working to produce at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the coming decade.

The 2009 record deficit of $1.4 trillion was registered as the country struggled through a recession and was in the midst of the Wall St. bailout. Continuing weakness in the economy has kept tax revenues low. The revenue picture did improve in 2011 as individual income tax receipts rose 22 percent to $1.1 trillion, CBO estimated.

For the record, per the CBO:

  • Total collections for the year amounted to $2.303 trillion, a $141 billion (6.5%) increase over the previous fiscal year.
  • Total spending amounted to $3.600 trillion, a $144 billion (4.2%) increase over the previous fiscal year.

Thanks to the manipulation of reported losses in the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the figures for total spending are questionable (discussed further here). But even taking them at face value, the takeaways from fiscal 2011 are that the government:

  • Kept spending more money, even though the end of the $800 billion, two-year stimulus program should have caused spending to decrease by about $400 million.
  • Still collected far less than it did in fiscal 2007 and 2008, when both years showed collection of over $2.5 trillion. Some “recovery.”
  • Spent more than every extra dollar it collected.

The AP report also “forgot” to tell readers that the deficits of the past three years dwarf the deficits seen in previous years. Deficits in fiscal 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 combined totaled less just under $1.2 trillion — not an acceptable result by any means, but less than each of the three fiscal years which have concluded during the Obama administration.

I also detect a bit of bar-lowering in this sentence:

It’ll take major changes to the way the government does business – some combination of new revenues and major spending cuts – to get the deficit down to about 3 percent of GDP, the level that many analysts say is sustainable.

I’d like to meet the “analysts” who are saying this today.

Consistent, supposedly “sustainable” 3% deficits would still amount to $450 billion annually on a roughly $15 trillion gross domestic product. Perhaps that would be “sustainable” if the country were relatively debt-free and chose to go there every once in a long while. But that’s not the situation. The government has run up $4 trillion in deficits during the past three fiscal years. Getting back to near breakeven — and perhaps even getting into surplus — is the kind of cure towards which the diseased patient known as the U.S. government needs to be striving.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Herman Cain: Value Voters Speech Transcript

It follows, sans comment (via Time):
(more…)

‘It’s Official: The ‘Occupy’ Movement Is An Obama Front’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:26 am

StatueOfGiveItToMe1011(At right: The Renamed Official Monument of “Occupy Wall Street”)

Jay Carney (HTs and post title source, Pat Dollard; Doug Ross):

“I think that what we’re seeing on the streets of New York is an expression of democracy,” Mr. Carney said. “I think both are expressions that are totally consistent with the American democratic tradition.”

Gosh, I don’t remember such rapturous praise of the legitimately people-driven Tea Party movement from Mr. Carney or his predecessor.

Meanwhile, the “Occupy” mob is Soros-funded and Soros org-driven.

Glenn Reynolds: “If you’re not protesting against President Goldman Sachs, you’re not protesting against ‘Wall Street.’ You’re just a hack. Sorry.”

An Althouse commenter IDs the hypocrisy (“Shouting Thomas” is not yours truly):

The Obama administration has become a house of mirrors.
Wall Street is the wicked enemy.
Geithner is Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs is everywhere in the Obama admin.
Rise up against the evil bankers!
Pay off the evil bankers!
The evil bankers must direct our economy policy or we are doomed!

The “Occupy” movement is basically a bunch of hacks (consisting largely of “Communists threatening violence against ‘the rich.’ Anarchists, Jew-hater, Rich union bosses like Jimmy Hoffa and Dick Trumka”). The establishment press whitewashing this crowd is also a bunch of hacks.

Ross:

The problem isn’t that millionaires — America’s job creators — aren’t paying enough taxes. It’s that the federal government is so bloated, so wasteful, so corpulent and so out-of-control that it threatens to subsume the entire economy.

Believe me when I tell you that 2012 is our last chance to turn this ship around.

I wish I could say that I’m confident that we can hold on that long.

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (100811)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:26 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

___________________________________

Kyle-Anne Shiver at Pajamas Media“Herman Cain: The New Front-Runner”

At Zero Hedge (HT commenter dscott) — “Congressional Research Service Finds US Exposure To Europe At $640 Billion And ‘Could Be Considerably Higher’”

An Investor’s Business Daily editorial“George Soros: Agent of Chaos.” Money quote: “Not only is the $22 billion-dollar man declaring the motley mob the protagonists in a vast struggle against capitalism, the activist groups he’s funded, such as the Tides Foundation, MoveOn.org, and a new one, led by self-described communist Van Jones called ‘Rebuild the Dream,’ are now its most active organizers.” Hypocrisy add-on: “Soros was a vocal proponent of bank bailouts himself.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the deficit for the fiscal year which just ended was $1.298 trillion. In the year after which the two-year, $800 billion stimulus went away (i.e., when spending should have gone down by about $400 billion), spending increased by 4.2%, or $144 billion, completing offsetting increases in collections. (Also: Zero Hedge notes that without a bit of gimmickry, the deficit would have been $1.4 trillion.)

In September 2011, the economy, pending revisions, added 103,000 seasonally adjusted jobs (well, 58,000 after subtracting out Verizon workers who walked off the job in August and returned last month). In September 1983, the economy added just over a million jobs (HT No Runny Eggs).

The usually measured Steven Heyward At Powerline (“The Eternal Cluelessness of Mitt Romney”):

(Thursday’s) Wall Street Journal brings a fresh dose of heartburn for those of us willfully trying to warm up to Romney, with a front-page story on Romney’s environmental record during his governorship of Massachusetts. Now, I’ve argued for a long time that Republicans ought to be able to handle environmental issues with more finesse, but from the looks of this story Romney hasn’t got it. There’s this quote from Romney, outside a coal-fired power plant that he wanted to rein in somehow:

“I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant—that plant—kills people.”

Where to begin with this kind of idiocy? And if we’re going to have that kind of idiocy, why not just elect Al Gore?

Or Barack Obama?

Positivity: Disability and Steve Jobs’ Legacy

Filed under: Business Moves,Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

I didn’t mean to keep going with Steve Jobs items, but I couldn’t ignore this one:

October 6, 2011 | 12:28 pm

When I heard that Steve Jobs had passed away, I was boarding a train from New York to Philadelphia to visit my son. A friend phoned and then text-messaged me the news before I could read it on Twitter. It felt, I said later, as if someone had torn the hair out of my head.

When I did tweet, the first semi-coherent thought I was able to write about Jobs was also about my son: “I’m on my way to PHL to see my son, who uses a device Steve Jobs invented to help him talk. He will never know. He will never know.”

My son is on the autism spectrum and has a severe receptive and expressive language delay. He’s 4 years old, and can read and spell words, and sing entire songs, but is more like an 18-month- or 2-year-old in normal conversation. He cannot use a telephone and has a hard time sitting still for video telephony. He has a thoroughly well-loved iPod Touch, filled with videos and apps that have helped him learn to speak and augment his ability to communicate.

It may be a stretch to say Steve Jobs invented the iPod Touch or most of the technologies contained in it. But Steve Jobs certainly put it in my son’s hands, both by making it a sub-$200 device (and in our case, giving it away free with a laptop) and by helping to create an ecosystem of software applications for people with disabilities — perhaps especially communication disabilities.

… In the disability community, “accessible” means something is open to people of all abilities, usually because it was designed with them in mind. And in both spheres, “accessible” can mean something almost anyone can both find and afford. Like anything else, Apple’s iThings can sometimes seem too complex, too presumptuous, too expensive. But really, even with their limitations, they’re amazingly accessible in every sense of the word.

The iPod and iPad have been called “a near-miracle device” for children and adults with autism. In that formulation, “near” is as important as “miracle.” It’s not simply miraculous. Nothing that solves a real problem, rather than an invented or infomercial problem, is.

… Apple never had a perfect record when it came to user accessibility. No technology company does. But I bought my first iPhone when I broke my arm, because it let me use a computer with one hand. And on Tuesday, when I saw Apple’s demo video for Siri, its new voice-command AI assistant — which ends with a blind woman using Siri to send and receive text messages — knowing that blindness has been the disability least well-served by the touchscreen revolution — I wept. I’m weeping again now.

Read the whole thing.