Friday, October 12, 2007

General Fund Deficit Tops $550 Billion for Fourth Year in a Row

My Angrybear post graphs and discusses the fact that total Federal debt has increased by more than $550 billion over the fiscal year – again! The White House will tout how the unified deficit has declined but since they will not tell you that this is because those Trust Fund surpluses are rising, I will. Please excuse my testiness in this AB post. It seems my old cave has been invaded by some of Karl Rove’s trolls.


Anonymous said...

So here in lies yet additional evidence of the magic of numerical interpretation. YouNotSneaky, please take note. Here are a set of relatively straight forward measures of US debt from which interpretations of the actual "debt" conflict with one another. Even if it's not the numbers which are inaccurate, it is obvious that their manner of presentation changes their over-all significance. Any side of the argument can be supported by the same set of "data." So much for the quality of analysis. So much for the quality of the information being disseminated by professionals in the field.

Bruce Webb said...

pgl, I did a little smackdown on CoRev to save you the trouble. The term 'General Fund' and the distinction between 'On Budget' (General Fund) and 'Off Budget' (Social Security and the Postal Fund) are clearly defined in the Definitions section of the 2007 Budget. As I put it at AB "They define budget terms in the Budget? Who woulda thunk it?"

I helpfully cut and pasted those definitions for our pal. And what is either a case of stupidity or dishonesty or perhaps dishonest stupidity the source he used clearly shows the difference. Which was tough to see because he linked to the practically unreadable ASCII version rather than the perfectly readable PDF version, but Table 2 clearly sets out the difference between On-budget and Off-budget both by current month and year to date. Either the guy can't read or he is being deliberately obtuse. Given past practice I suspect he was covering his tracks by deliberately posting the data in a way that made it difficult to fact check him. He really is a weasel.

Anonymous said...

I protest your disparagment of the weasel, an animal whose poor reputation is ill deserved. As you rightly point out on AB, the comments made by CoRev are deceptive with the probable intention of being misleading. Your description, "CoRev, you moron," is more to the point.

The weasel is a cunning predator. It uses its wits and skill to survive within a hostile environment. Its behavior is never moronic. This CoRev character can only aspire to demonstrate the straight forward character of the weasel's behavior. Yes, it preys upon less capable, sometimes defenseless victims, but it makes no pretense of its intentions. I hope that this lowly character, CoRev, is not a trained economist, as that would cast a poor reflection on the profession.

Bruce Webb said...

I'll try to limit name calling, but CoRev is truly a tiring person.

CoRev doesn't claim to be an economist, which is a good thing. But he is a relentless repeater of Right Wing talking points on war and deficits and combative to boot. He consistently cherry picks and misrepresents data, which then takes time to track down and debunk. And when called on it tends to whine 'What did I do?" As in this last thread where his defense was 'I'm just an old man asking questions'

Well yeah maybe that could have sold in his first dozen posts, but patterns become pretty clear after months of the same nonsense.

Oddly enough on the actual topic of the deficit he has a point, the overall trendline on the General Fund deficit is not bad, particularly given the poor growth numbers. If it wasn't for the war the long term outlook would be pretty rosy, assuming that is that housing doesn't take us over a cliff (which I doubt it will). Take $150 billion off that 2007 numbers and we would be ontrack for UD surplus by next year.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like the war is coming off the books any time soon. On the other hand I am not forecasting SS shortfall in 2017 either. While Low Cost is not in the bag yet outcomes north of Intermediate Cost are likely, I don't see any reason why a shrinkage in Real GDP of 33% (3.3% in 2006 to 2.2% in 2013) over seven years and a continuing slide to 1.9% should be your median projection, that would be more appropriate for High Cost (about whose numbers the less said the better). 2.5% Real GDP shoves shortfall and depletion significantly back in the future which in turn eases the task of financing the General Fund. And it is absurd to assert that the best case going forward shorterm is 3.4%. Six of the last eleven years we had better growth than that and two more at 3.2%.

So while I have enormous problems with the tax distribution and with how we allocate funds, the dollar figure of $550 billion in and of itself doesn't trouble me much