Congressional Budget Office
There was a time when a $200+ billion reduction in the federal budget deficit would have been big news and hailed as a singular achievement worthy of either fiscal sainthood or a dance-on-the-table party...or both.
Yet yesterday's Congressional Budget Office report showing that the fiscal 2013 federal deficit will be $642 billion, $203 billion less than CBO's previous estimate of $845 billion, did not create any spontaneous cannonizations or celebrations. It also didn't change the still-stalemated and crisis-oriented federal budget debate by even a small amount.
The bottomline: It's in almost no one's interest to be happy about the budget news that should have made everyone happier.
Whether you're inside or outside the beltway, you always have to be careful about saying that something is "only" $71 billion.
Nevertheless, the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office that the July federal deficit was $71 billion, $58 billion lower than the July 2011 deficit, is one time when the word "only" is appropriate.
Through the first 10 months of fiscal 2012, the overall deficit is $125 billion less than the $1.1 trillion in the same period last year.
The real question is whether this is good or bad news.
Politically, the latest CBO numbers indicate that the 2012 deficit will be substantially lower than 2011 but will still exceed $1 trillion. That means that the red ink will still be a campaign issue.
Two reports over the past two days by the most credible organizations that do budget analysis prove that, no matter what they say publicly, congressional Republicans don't actually give a damn about reducing the federal deficit or lower government spending.
Each report shows that, for the GOP, the deficit not only comes in no better than second every time, it's not really a serious consideration.
The first report, produced by the excellent analysts at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and released on Monday, shows that last August's GOP-induced fight over raising the debt ceiling increased federal borrowing costs, that is, spending on interest, by a minimum of $1.3 billion. Here's the money quote:
It's March, the month when Spring, the NCAA tournament, and "Dancing with the Stars" all begin.
It's also when Republican shameful misuse (to the point of malpractice) of the budget baseline typically reaches its annual high/low point.
That's when, in response to the Congressional Budget Office's release of its updated deficit projections and estimates of the president's budget, Republicans carefully pick the comparison that supposedly proves what they want to say even when there is ample and readily available evidence that show what they're saying isn't true.
Two examples from last week.
As I explain in my column from today's Roll Call, it says everything you need to know that, even by today's federal budget standards, Newt Gingrich's recent verbal attack on the Congressional Budget Office was absurd.
Take a look.
Newt Gingrich Wants to Kill the CBO Messenger
Former Speaker and current GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich might well have said that he wants to kill his personal physician because he didn’t like being told his blood pressure was too high.
But that’s the equivalent of what Gingrich did say during a recent debate, when he made it clear that the Congressional Budget Office has to be eliminated if health care reform is going to be repealed.