Ho Hum: CBO Estimate of $390 Billion Oct.-Dec. U.S. Deficit Gets Two Establishment Media Items

On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office issued its Monthly Budget Review for December 2009. It estimates that December's federal deficit will be $92 billion when the Treasury Department releases its Monthly Treasury Statement on Wednesday, and that the deficit for the first fiscal quarter will be "about $390 billion." The CBO director's related blog post is here. The establishment press has virtually ignored it.

Here is the initial result of a Google News search on "CBO deficit" (not in quotes) for articles relating to the Congressional Budget Office's Thursday estimate of the federal government's deficit for the first quarter of its fiscal year:


Clicking on the "all 10 new articles" reveals that there are really only four results, that three of them are at blogs, and that only one of the blog posts is from an establishment media site:


Here is the opening paragraph from the CBO Director's blog post:

The federal budget deficit was about $390 billion in the first quarter of fiscal year 2010, CBO estimates in its latest Monthly Budget Review—$56 billion more than for the same period in fiscal year 2009 despite reduced spending related to turmoil in the financial markets. Outlays were slightly lower than they were last year at this time, but revenues have fallen by about 11 percent. Later this month, CBO will issue new budget projections for 2010 and the following 10 years.

As to the detailed search results: 

  • Corey Boles's item at the Wall Street Journal appears to be the only one that might have made it into the print edition of an establishment media newspaper.
  • Jordan Fabian at the Hill should be hoping very few people see the reporter's entry. It claims that "The CBO has reported that the legislation will reduce the federal deficit over the next decade but Republicans say that it will make the deficit rise even more." The sentence technically would have worked if Fabian hadn't replaced "federal" with "reported." The problem, as CBO noted on December 23, is that "savings to the HI (hospital insurance) trust fund under the PPACA would be received by the government only once, so they cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending on other parts of the legislation or on other programs." In other words, Congress was "double counting" and the CBO took note of it. The effect of the legislation would be to increase the "federal" deficit, i.e., the real deficit incurred in all federal government operations).
  • Donald Marron at Wall Street Pit fairly notes that "A portion of that (17%) increase (in the deficit) is due to the timing of weekends and holidays, but even controlling for those, the deficit is up 8%."

Finally Peter Suderman at Reason has the best take (internal links were in original):

The CBO, which admits a high degree of uncertainty in its findings but is arguably still the best source we have for guesses about the budgetary outlook (and is most accurate when looking at what's already occured), has been calling our country's current fiscal path "unsustainable" since at least June. Half a year later, though, it appears that deficit's still expanding like Violet Beauregarde when she gets to the blueberry pie section of Willy Wonka's chewing gum.

It would appear that the establishment press believes the less said about how dire things really are, the better.

So much for journalistic responsibility. I guess the love life of Peter Orszag, President Obama's Director the Office of Management and Budget, is more interesting.

Let's see how much coverage Treasury's actual results get on Wednesday, and how the press tries to spin them.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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