Tuesday, July 11, 2006

We Love Us Some Soft Bigotry

You see, it's all about managing expectations (via Kevin Drum):

When President Bush releases the traditional midsummer update on the budget today, he is expected to announce that federal revenue has soared above predicted levels and that the deficit is headed for a welcome decline from earlier estimates — as much as 30%, or $125 billion, below the level projected just five months ago.

And the president will likely attribute the windfall to his tax cuts, which the administration says are stimulating economic activity and generating the torrent of tax revenue.

But the apparent good news will not strike some economists as surprising: This will be the third year in a row that the administration put forth relatively gloomy deficit forecasts early on, only to announce months later that things had turned out better than expected. To some skeptics, it's beginning to look like an economic version of the old "expectations" game.

To divert attention from that continuing reality, critics suggest, the administration has borrowed a gambit favored by political candidates, who commonly try to lower expectations about how they will fare to magnify the apparent size of their victory if they win. [...]

In the case of the budget, they say, the administration has begun to low-ball its revenue estimates at the beginning of a budget cycle to set up good news a few months later.

"The White House would have signaled that it was serious about the budget if it had decided not to spin the numbers," Stanley Collender, a budget specialist with Qorvis Communications, wrote for National Journal. "The fact that it is choosing to do so points out directly that, in spite of what appears to be good numbers, nothing much will have changed."
Mission accomplished! After all, facts are facts, but perception is reality. And when you have such faithful water carriers as Ann Althouse - fetchingly dressed in the sheeps clothing of faux-centrism - the rest is, as they say, history. Witness poor-old reality based Brad DeLong and his battle with the forces of Teh Post-Modern Muddy:

Ann Althouse writes:Althouse: "The long-term [budget] prognosis is still very, very bleak, and the administration doesn't have any kind of long-term plan.": That's the Democratic response to this news: "An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the budget deficit this year..."
No, Ann. That's not just the Democratic response. It's the non-insane Republican response too. It's the response of George W. Bush's first two chairs of his Council of Economic Advisers, Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw. It's the response of everyone except you and your narrow and shrinking circle of koolaid-drinking friends...
And so ladies and gentlemen, round and round we go on the carousel.

[Elsewhere, publius does his part to set the record straight on the proper way to read charts and graphs. Man, this stuff sure is confusing.]

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