Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Arguing About the 2007 Deficit

A lot of people are comparing the federal deficit for the last month--a record $223 billion--with the deficit in FY 2007 in the Bush administration. But somehow nobody can agree on the Bush number.

That's where usgovernmentspending.com comes in. It has a special Budget Analyst so you can look things up. In particular it has an "estimate vs. actual" feature that lets you look at a specific fiscal year, say 2007, and look at the forecasts for spending and deficits compared with the actual outcome.

When the president publishes his budget it includes estimates on future spending and revenue as well as reports on past spending and revenue. In the FY12 budget just sent up to Capitol Hill, the president sent Congress his estimates for FY12 starting in November 2011, as well as his report on actual spending for FY10.

So here is how the federal deficit for FY 2007, in billions of US dollars, worked out, in forecast and in hindsight.

FY 2007
Federal Deficit-104.0178.2241.3312.1354.3244.2161.0

So there it is, straight from usgovernmentspending.com.

It is shocking to see how the deficit estimate changes from year to year. Imagine! In the FY 2003 budget the president estimated a surplus for FY 2007. But that was before the War in Iraq got started. Then the estimate changed, so that by the time that President Bush sent the FY 2007 budget to Congress in February 2006, he was estimating a budget deficit of $354 billion. Then, after all that fuss, the deficit came in at $161 billion.

You gotta wonder. Who's in charge here?

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