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This refrain which I've stolen from Brad DeLong is quite a common complaint about the newspaper business. Though most of it is shrill complaints of lockstep liberal or conservative bias based less on rigorous study but more an emotion. More sophicated critiques involve the press having institutional bias, and a laziness to evaluate claims made by those in power. Today, I pass along an AP report that demonstrates the latter complaints.

Bush plan would halve deficit in 5 years
Dec. 12, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's budget for the coming election year will chart a course for cutting federal deficits in half within the next five years, a top White House budget official said Friday.

Administration officials have been citing that as a goal for several months, even as government red ink has surged to record levels. White House budget chief Joshua Bolten has acknowledged that an unprecedented $500 billion shortfall is likely this year, making the goal a $250 billion deficit by 2009.

...

In an interview, Joel Kaplan, deputy director of the White House budget office, provided few specifics about how the deficit would be cut in half.

Kaplan said Bush would achieve it ``by pursuing very aggressively his pro-growth economic policies, and by leading the Congress toward overall policies of fiscal restraint. And if the Congress adheres to those two programs, we'll be successful in halving the deficit from its '04 peak within that time period.''

The president's economic growth policies will consist ``primarily'' of proposing again that tax cuts first enacted in 2001 be made permanent, instead of expiring as this decade ends, Kaplan said. That could cost $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years, according to congressional budget analysts.

In interviews this week, lawmakers, aides and lobbyists have said administration officials are trying to keep overall spending increases for agencies at very low levels next year, perhaps at or below the 4 percent range that Bush said last year should be adequate.


Notice the only specific thing he mentioned was making permanent various tax cuts that were proposed with fictional sunsets to fool various accounting offices into believing that they wouldn't make the deficit worse than otherwise.

The writer generally notes that the administration will again attempt to hold the line at other government spending at 4%, but that was the story given last year, and Bush had a friendly Congress. He couldn't pull of that fiction off last year, even by underfunding (compared to what he promised) his education initiatives and homeland security.

But even assuming we get our 4% cuts in everything without the politicians, or the public protesting, we don't have enough information to confirm this headline's accuracy.

If I wasn't tired, I'd say more, but being a windbag is exhausting.