Today, both the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget released revised deficit projections, which take into account changes in the economy that have occurred since the last projections were made. The projections reveal a lower deficit for 2009, but $2 trillion more in deficits over ten years due to the recession being deeper than previously calculated.
Conservatives have inevitably started using the projections to criticize the administration’s economic policies. For instance, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) wrote in Politico today that the administration is being economically dishonest and that its economic credibility “has taken a sharp hit”:
The facts are disheartening. This year’s deficit is set to swell to more than $1.5 trillion…In this economy, as families review their own budgets and adjust accordingly, they expect their government to act in a manner that reflects the challenging times we are in. Much of the public frustration with Washington has been evident in town halls across the country, and many Americans believe the administration’s top priority should be cutting the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term.
First, Cantor is being disingenuous when he claims that the 2009 deficit is “set to swell” to $1.5 trillion. The 2009 projection has actually been revised downward, from $1.8 trillion, because less money than anticipated was spent on the bank rescues.
But more importantly, Cantor penned an entire op-ed hooked to the new projections, seemingly without reading them. If he had, he might have noticed that what he calls the “top priority” — halving the deficit by the end of the President’s first term — the administration is on course to achieve. Both the CBO (the top table) and the OMB (the bottom table) project that the deficit will be cut by more than half in 2013:
As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out, all the new projections indicate is that the administration and Congress should “begin taking steps to ensure that the deficit will come down to reasonable levels (3 percent of Gross Domestic Product or less) in the slightly longer run (through 2019) and that the deficits do not begin to grow very rapidly in the following decades.”