White House's reaction to deficit disturbing

    In light of the fact that the budget deficit numbers reached record proportions, the White House’s cheery reaction seems just a bit out of place.

    The federal deficit soared to $374.2 billion in 2003, which is twice 2002’s $158 billion and easily surpasses the $290 billion record set in 1992. It’s amusing at best and disturbing at worst to note that the characteristic response from Treasury Secretary John Snow is that “”the economy is well on the way to recovery.””

    It’s hardly surprising. Maybe a little too unsurprising. Deficits are simply the result of lowering taxes and increasing military spending. There have been accusations that the White House purposely padded its deficit forecast in July to set the stage for a sunny reaction in October. The actual 2003 deficit is $81 billion less than the administration predicted, which indicates that they’re either incompetent or manipulative.

    Rather than the picture getting better for next year, the numbers could very well get worse. Defense spending rose from 2002, although its increase was $20 billion less than the White House estimated in July, largely because the government was spending its Iraq aid more slowly than anticipated. That’s great for the numbers in 2003, but it means that many of the expenditures could very well occur in 2004, making that year’s deficit a contender to break this year’s record.

    Instead of shrugging their shoulders and saying, “”It could have been worse,”” the Bush administration needs to consider making the budget a key concern, instead of a mess for someone else to clean up.

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