I got this e-mail yesterday from CNN shortly after Uncle Sam's Monthly Treasury Statement for March was released:
That was indeed a serious piece of news. Only halfway through the year, the federal government's deficit for fiscal 2009 is already larger by far than any previous year's deficit.
So I was curious to see how the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger might work this story to minimize the damage to Dear Leader, President 'Prompter himself, Barack Obama.
That Crutsinger and AP intended to go above and beyond the call of duty was obvious in the headline. Wait for it:
Here are the first few paragraphs from Crutsinger's report:
The Treasury Department said Friday that the budget deficit increased by $192.3 billion in March, and is near $1 trillion just halfway through the budget year, as costs of the financial bailout and recession mount.
Last month's deficit, a record for March, was significantly higher than the $150 billion that economists expected.
The deficit already totals $956.8 billion for the first six months of the budget year, also a record for that period. The Obama administration projects the deficit for the entire year will hit $1.75 trillion.
A deficit at that level would nearly quadruple the previous annual record of $454.8 billion set last year. The March deficit was nearly four times the size of the imbalance in the same month last year.
In a later paragraph, Crutsinger attempted to deflect blame from Obama not only for the fiscal year 2009 deficit, but also for fiscal 2010. I'm serious. Read this:
The administration projects that after hitting $1.75 trillion this year, the gap between spending and tax revenues will dip to $1.17 trillion in 2010, and plunge to $533 billion in 2013. If accurate, that would fulfill Obama's pledge to cut the deficit he inherited in half by the end of his current term in office.
The deficit Obama has promised to cut in half is 2010's. Crutsinger is thus claiming that 2010's deficit, not just 2009's, is "inherited."
Even the argument that Obama is "inheriting" all of the fiscal 2009 deficit is absurd on its face. Most obviously, a large portion of so-called stimulus money based on legislation passed this year is supposed to be spent, or I should say sent, in fiscal 2009. Much of it won't really be used by its state, local, and other recipients until fiscal 2010 or 2011.
Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are the ones deciding to distribute TARP money far and wide, and spreading it to recipients, including auto-parts suppliers, beyond those targeted during the Bush administration. Geithner is also the one who has recently created the Toxic Assets Program. This is what Congress was told TARP would originally be when it passed the original bailout legislation last year. This administration is the crew that has decided that the government should not only "invest" in banks, but also buy their junk.
But Crutsinger clearly goes beyond the absurd to claim that Obama is also inheriting fiscal 2010's deficit of $1.17 trillion.
What? The Obama administration is indeed saying that it will cut 2010's deficit by half in three years. But as far as I know, the administration has never said that its projected 2010 deficit will be "inherited."
But then again, they don't have to, because lapdog reporters like Crutsinger will do it for them.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.