The right-wing blogosphere is crowing about an article in Investors Business Daily that claims that “President Bush may make good on his pledge to cut the deficit in half in 2006 — three years early.”
This is only true in fantasy land. Here’s are the facts:
1. Even accepting the most optimistic predictions, the deficit will not be cut in half. The article asserts that the deficit for this year may end up being $270 billion, or 2.1% of GDP. Even accepting that optimistic assessment, the 2004 deficit was $412 billion or 3.5% of GDP. For those of us living in reality, that’s not cutting the deficit in half.
The White House projected a deficit of $512 billion for 2004, but that never happened. At the time, budget experts warned the number was inflated for political purposes.
2. The budgetary outlook for 2006 has degraded by about $800 billion since Bush took office. In January 2001, the Congressional Budget Office predicted a $505 billion surplus for 2006. The optimistic deficit number pushed by International Business Daily is still $775 billion worse.
It shows a lot about the state of fiscal discipline in the conservative movement that these kind of numbers are cause for celebration.