The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has projected that the federal deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 will total around $260 billion, aided by a surge in revenues. That's $58 billion lower than last year's deficit and about $77 billion lower than projections at the beginning of the fiscal year.Talk about creative accounting! Enron would be proud.
Great news? Budget experts in Washington and on Wall Street say it's a welcome development, but misleading. Washington's funny math excludes the Social Security trust fund, which is running a $177 billion surplus this year. Washington spends it, but doesn't count it as spending. It's officially listed as "off-budget" borrowing. [...]
So the deficit is actually about $437 billion, the CBO calculates: the $260 billion official deficit plus the $177 billion borrowed from the trust fund. Since the money is "borrowed," it adds to the gross federal debt, which is expected to reach about $8.5 trillion by Jan. 1.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Washington's Fuzzy Math
The McClatchy Washington Bureau looked at the Bush administration's latest spin on the budget deficit and found the following: