With The Bush Gimmicks The 2009 Obama Deficit Would Have Been...?
The Obama budget projected a 2009 deficit of $1.75 trillion. But that number would have been much lower had the White House used the same accounting tricks and conventions used by the Bush administration.
Follow the bouncing deficit:
- The $1.75 trillion deficit included $250 billion for additional assistance for financial institutions that the White says it's not requesting in the budget but may need later in the year. The Bush budget would have excluded this from the budget and simply added it later if and when the funds were needed. Excluding it from the Obama budget as Bush would have done would have reduced the apparent deficit to $1.5 trillion.
- The Obama budget included $75.5 billion for additional funds for activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. This would also have been excluded from the Bush budget. Doing that here would have reduced the apparent deficit to about $1.4 trillion.
- The Obama budget included about $70 billion in lower revenue from the one-year patch for the Alternative Minimumn Tax that was included in the stimulus bill. The Bush budget typically assumed that the AMT would not be patched even though everyone knew it would be. The Bush accounting treatment would have reduced the deficit to about $1.35 trillion.*
- The Obama budget included about $20 billion for natural disasters; the Bush budgets always assumed that there would be no floods, earthquakes, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Using the Bush budget rules, this would have reduced the 2009 deficit to $1.33 trillion.
- Finally, the Bush budgets always assumed that the physician reimbursement provisions in Medicare would go into effect as planned even though, just like the AMT patch, it was virtually guaranteed to be scaled back. This would have reduced the deficit to about $1.3 trillion.
* Note: Because the patch has already been enacted for 2009 rather than being just a proposal, its cost absolutely should be included in the budget numbers at this point.