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:
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.

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.
Talk about creative accounting! Enron would be proud.

4 comments:

abi said...

The Washington beancounters love to play tricks with the Social Security trust fund. That might be the one thing that saves SS from being privatized. ;-)

Betty Cracker said...

$8.5 trillion. Trillion! That's an astonishing number.

Lew Scannon said...

The one thing them Republicans like about deficits is their base will never have to pay it off, what with all them tax cuts and such.

Kathy said...

Abi, your point is worth noting - and one I never considered before. What would Washington do without the trust fund to steal from?! However, in the not too far future, the fund will no longer have a surplus and privatization will be their solution again. (Of course, they could pay back all the loans they've taken and keep it afloat. Yeah, right, and the rich might have to pay more in taxes too. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...)