March 13, 2012

More on Rugaber’s Risible Report on February’s (Not Recognized) Record Federal Budget Deficit

Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, also known to yours truly as the Administration’s Press, failed to tell his readers that the federal government’s $232 billion reported deficit in February was an all-time single-month record. I also went back and showed that another AP reporter in March 2008 did note that February 2008′s deficit was at the time an all-time record. If there’s a reason for the patently obvious inconsistency other than who happens to be occupying the White House at the moment, I’d sure like to know what it is.

Rugaber’s report had other risible aspects which I have excerpted below in three separate segments:

The government last recorded a surplus in 2001. The deficits grew again after President George W. Bush won approval for broad tax cuts, pushed a major drug benefit program for seniors and launched the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

I guess we’ll never stop reading this tired stuff as long as the Administration’s Press is around.

Points:

  • Those tax cuts led to a 44% rise federal receipts in the four four fiscal years from 2003-2007 (from $1.782 trillion to $2.568 trillion, and are the major reason why deficits dropped (i.e., didn’t grow) from $413 billion in 2004 to $163 billion in 2007. Very little if any meaningful permanent tax reduction has occurred during the Obama administration, and federal receipts are still nowhere the record levels seen in fiscal 2007 and 2008. Yet reporters continually insist on assigning all kinds of tax collections “lost” from the last decade’s tax reductions even though tax collections actually increased.
  • Whether passing the drug benefit program known as Medicare Part D was a good idea is open to debate; but Rugaber’s citation of it as a significant deficit contributor is ludicrous. Through 2010: “Part D spending is far lower than estimates actuaries made before the coverage began in 2006. Trustees for the Medicare program had projected that Part D federal and beneficiary payments would total $115.7 billion in 2010, according to the 2005 trustees report. Actual spending in 2010 was $61.7 billion, or 47% less than the 2005 projection, according to the report released this year.”
  • The citation of war spending as a major deficit contributor is a false meme the AP and other establishment press outlets won’t leave alone, and has been taken apart several times, most recently here on February 15.

Next:

The imbalance grew even further during President Barack Obama’s administration. Tax revenues plummeted during the recession, as unemployment soared and corporate profits fell. The Obama administration also stepped up spending, adopting a roughly $800 billion stimulus program.

The trouble is that the level of spending caused by the stimulus, which was supposed to be about $400 billion per year, has become permanently embedded into baseline spending levels, as seen in the following figures for total spending (which really should be adjusted for TARP-related accounting matters, but this will do):

The increased level of spending supposedly mostly due to the stimulus has never gone away. The 2012 projection indicates that Obama wants spending to zoom upward from there.

Finally:

The rapid growth in annual deficits has drawn public outrage and heightened partisan debate in Congress over spending and taxes. Growing deficits have pushed the federal debt to a record $15.5 trillion.

Republicans are making the deficit a key election-year issue.

Gee Chris, does this mean that if Republicans weren’t making the deficit and the nation’s impending fiscal crack-up election-year issues, President Obama, the White House, and the Democratic Party would be acting as if the problems don’t even exist? If so, thanks for telling us. That’s about as stark a contrast between reality and unreality as you can draw.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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