Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Superfudge: What to Expect from the President’s Wisconsin Visit

It seems a large focus of President Bush’s visit to Milwaukee today – in addition to bringing in campaign cash for the Green Team – will likely be public finance.

WISN News reports that Bush is set to unveil today a new budget deficit number of $300 billion for FY 2005-2006.

How is that good news, you wonder? Well, it’s better than the $400 billion deficit estimated just six months ago.

An interesting fact, though, is that it was the Bush Administration who made that January estimate. And the Washington Post was all over the deceit:

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This is the third straight year in which the White House has summoned reporters well ahead of the official budget release to project a higher-than-anticipated deficit. In the past two years, when final deficit figures have come in at record or near-record levels, White House officials have boasted that they had made progress, since the final numbers were below estimates.

"This administration has a history of overestimating the deficit early in the year, lowering expectations, then taking credit when it comes in below forecast," said Stanley E. Collender, a federal budget expert at Financial Dynamics Business Communications. "It's not just a history. It's almost an obsession."

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I wrote at the time that I should’ve used that on my parents when I was in college – if I only told them it was going to take seven years to finish, they would’ve been thrilled when it only took five.

What’s saddest is that the deceit largely works for the Bush Administration. In the WISN story on the new budget deficit number, not once is it mentioned that the difference between the new figure and the old figure was concocted purely by the White House to make itself look good.

Looking at the numbers released by the Treasury Department in January – on the exact same day that the White House released its initial budget deficit predictions – shows that the Bush figure was grossly inflated.

According to the Treasury Department, the initial figures for FY 2005-2006 looked very similar to those from FY 2004-2005 when the budget deficit hit $319 billion for the year. That means the current projection of $300 billion is really what the White House should’ve been projecting back in January (added note: the CBO baseline projection for the deficit in March was $336 billion, a far more accurate assessment than the one provided by the White House in January).

But here comes President Bush to make a big budget announcement in Wisconsin in the hopes of using the “good” news to defend his tax cuts – which, what do you know, were consistently supported by votes from Mark Green. All of a sudden the timing of the announcement isn’t so curious anymore.

In reality, of course, the tax cuts have done nothing to improve the federal budget deficit and – amazingly this is a surprise to some – they have actually hampered the financial situation of the federal government.

In the past five years of GOP control, the federal deficit has increased by 50% to over $8 trillion. This prompted the Republican-controlled Congress to vote to increase the allowable federal deficit to $9 trillion earlier this year – a move supported by Mark Green in a near party-line vote (all House Dems voted against it, as did 12 House Republicans and 5 GOP Senators).

For all the talk of fiscal responsibility, the GOP has completely mismanaged this country’s federal finances since Bush took office – and Mark Green has willingly participated in that mismanagement the whole time, voting almost exclusively with the White House on every issue.

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Side-Note: Prior to his money-maker for Green this evening, Bush is heading up to the Allen Edmonds shoe factory in Port Washington. Amazingly, Bush was able to find a prosperous Wisconsin business to tour during today’s visit – after all, our state climate is supposedly hostile to anything corporate.

Here is what a White House spokesperson had to say about the tour: “Allen-Edmonds is a great Wisconsin company and a great example of American manufacturing competitiveness. As the president travels the country, he likes to highlight American companies that are being competitive in the global marketplace.”

Here is what Green had to say in a press statement about Wisconsin’s business competitiveness just a few weeks ago: “It is painfully clear that Jim Doyle does not understand what it takes to create good jobs in Wisconsin. … Under his watch, we’ve seen Wisconsin fall behind other states in job creation and our income growth. … I’m running for governor because Jim Doyle is putting up needless barriers to opportunity and economic growth.”

Seems the Bush Team and the Green Team should get on the same page about the business climate in Wisconsin. Notably, Green won’t be joining Bush on the Allen Edmonds tour.

UPDATE: Xoff has more on the Bush/Green cabal.

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