Stupid Budget Tricks

Not only is the Obama administration’s decision to end Bush-era dumb budget gimmicks that made the deficit seem smaller than it really was a good idea, I also think it’s a political no-brainer. For one thing, you’ll get some points from someone for being honest. For another thing, I never really understood what the Bush Gang thought it was accomplishing with this stuff. It served to antagonize the tiny minority of people who care about long-run budget projections and impress . . . who, exactly? People, it seems, who don’t care enough about long-run budget projections to unravel the trivially obvious gimmicks they were using. But why do you care what those people think?

In a lot of ways, the Bush administration always struck me as a group of people who were just so impressed with their own shamelessness and dishonesty that they wildly exaggerated the extent to which lying about stuff is a useful governing tool. They loved the game, they loved the gamesmanship, they held the public in contempt, experts in more contempt, and the press in even more contempt, and so they just went and did it.