Driven by the cost of hurricane relief, the federal budget deficit is expected to balloon back above $400 billion for the fiscal year that ends in September, reversing the improvements of 2005, a White House official told reporters yesterday.
But some budget analysts cautioned that the estimate should be considered more of a political mark to inform the coming budget debate than an economic forecast.
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."
They lie. The press knows it. And it goes almost unremarked.