Tuesday, September 07, 2004

What a Surprise

The Congressional Budget Office is reporting that there isn't a chance in hell that Bush can fulfill his promise to cut the deficit in half over 5 years. No one can defy the laws of arithmetic.

ASHINGTON, Sept. 7 — Almost regardless of what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush is very unlikely to fulfill his promise of reducing the federal budget deficit by half within five years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said today.

In the last independent assessment of Mr. Bush's fiscal legacy before the elections, the Congressional agency said that if there were no change to existing law, the federal deficit would decline only modestly from a record of $422 billion in 2004 to about $312 billion in 2009.

If Mr. Bush persuades Congress to make his tax cuts permanent, he will fall even farther short of his promise. The federal deficit could reach nearly $500 billion in 2009 and the federal debt could swell by $4.8 trillion over the next decade.

The new estimate is the first time that the Congressional agency has projected that President Bush will not be able to fulfill his promise, made last February, to cut the deficit by half.

Budget projections, by Congress as well as the administration, have been notoriously wrong in the past — failing to anticipate a flood of tax revenue during the last 1990's and then badly underestimating a plunge in revenue after the stock market collapsed in 2000.

But the new report is sobering because it arrives at similar conclusions even when analysts made extremely optimistic assumptions about war costs in Iraq and robust economic growth.

"The message is that you cannot grow your way out of this," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who is director of the Congressional Budget Office and a former chief economist on President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. (emphasis added)
America under Bush is heading for a train-wreck, but nobody on the right seems to want to pay attention. Even if one accepts unreservedly that the war in Iraq ought to remain the prime focus of public policy, weapons and soldiers still must be paid for somehow, and with that in mind Bush's fiscal recklessness is actually a threat to the national security goals he claims to be focusing on. Where is the outrage on the right, other than from Andrew Sullivan?