Two paragraphs don't seem to belong together in Martin Crutsinger's Associated Press dispatch on the government's Monthly Treasury Statement for December. But there they are.
Here's the first paragraph of interest in Martin's missive ("Federal budget deficit narrows to $80B in December"):
Government spending during this period totaled $902.6 billion, an increase of 3.1 percent over the same period a year ago.
Now watch Crutsinger tell readers why spending should be down, perhaps without even realizing it (bold is mine):
The 2010 deficit was $1.29 trillion and followed an all-time high of $1.41 trillion in 2009. The government spent billions of dollars in that period to stabilize the financial system and try to jump-start the economy after the recession hit.
The operative numerical descriptor isn't "billions of dollars," it's "hundreds of billions of dollars."
In any event, if the described spending is no longer occurring during fiscal 2011, why is spending still up by roughly $28 billion? Inquiring minds want to know, but apparently Marty Crutsinger either doesn't want to know, or doesn't want us to know.
Here are a few, by no means all-inclusive reasons totally unrelated to stimulus explaining why spending has continued to sprout:
- Department of Defense, up $11.4 billion -- This may be necessary in the circumstances, but the irony of ironies is that Crutsinger spent much of fiscal 2009 obsessed with how "the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan" were causing the deficit, when increases in spending on those wars couldn't possibly have explained more than 5% of the reason why the reported deficit went from $455 billion in fiscal 2008 to 1.4 trillion in fiscal 2009. In fiscal 2011, a 6.5% DOD increase making up over one-third of this year's increase in spending is somehow unimportant.
- Health and Human Services, up $14.9 billion (7%)
- Veteran's Affairs, up $3.2 billion (10%)
- EPA, up $1.0 billion (53%, not a typo)
Crutsinger could have addressed these or several other spending increases (or decreases, for that matter) in the Monthly Treasury Statement. Instead, we got nothing but misdirection. We certainly didn't get good journalism.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.