Just As I Thought

We’re getting fatter

I love this metaphor from a Washington Post editorial this morning denouncing the Bush administration’s record deficits:

Having presided over record deficits, the administration now wants to claim credit if it manages to cut the bloated number in half. Imagine someone who’s been piling on extra pounds at an alarming rate. Trimming his annual weight gain from 30 pounds this year to 15 pounds five years from now still leaves him fat — and getting fatter.

They also point out the real-life costs of that tax cut on the rich that Bush pushed through:

The administration presents itself as blameless victim. “Today’s budget deficits are the unavoidable product of the revenue erosion from the stock market collapse that began in early 2000, an economy recovering from recession, and a nation confronting serious national security threats,” its budget states. “Had there not been one dime of tax relief under President Bush, we would have still run substantial budget deficits.”

Yes, but what this omits is the degree to which the administration’s tax cuts — many dimes’ worth, as it happens — contributed to the problem. Of this year’s $521 billion deficit, the tax cuts account for $272 billion. In 2009, when the administration projects that it will have cut the deficit to $239 billion, the tax cuts (assuming the administration wins the extension it demanded again yesterday) will cost $183 billion — in other words, the lion’s share of the projected shortfall.

But this low-ball estimate is a mirage. Like the 2005 budget, it doesn’t take into account continuing costs in Iraq and Afghanistan. It fails to address the acknowledged problem of the alternative minimum tax, which was aimed at the wealthy but is sweeping in growing numbers of ordinary taxpayers. It doesn’t fully fund the administration’s long-term defense spending plans. A more accurate picture of the likely deficit in 2009 — even assuming the administration manages to keep to its stated spending limits — would put it more than $150 billion higher. And, of course, the surplus in government retirement accounts masks the true size of the shortfall: $501 billion in 2009, even under the administration’s fuzzy math.

You know, mathematics is an exacting science. 2 + 2 always equals 4, doesn’t it? Yet somehow, the Bush camp (and administrations prior to this one) find ways to bend numbers to their will. I guess we can now see why Dubya the CEO managed to run all his businesses into the ground. It just doesn’t add up.

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