Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 13, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

BUSH AND HIS DEFICITS....I'm trying hard not to blog about the war today not an easy task with CNN's "all war all the time" broadcasts going on in the background but I'm going to keep at it because, well, I'm just tired and depressed about the whole thing. Besides, tomorrow looks to be a big war news day, so I'm going to hold off until then.

In the meantime, let's take a look at a perennial favorite: the laughable lengths that conservatives will go to in order to prove that Bill Clinton was a horrible president. Jerry Bowyer argues today in NRO that, hey, the Bush deficit for 2004 isn't so bad. In fact, it's not even as bad as Clinton's deficits.

This seems....what? Dubious, perhaps? But Bowyer has a table chock full of figures to prove it, and figures don't lie, do they? Why, if you take a look at the table below you'll see that Bush's deficit ranks only 12th in the pantheon of American deficits, and a miniscule 21st as a percent of GDP! The guy's a miser! So, Bowyer asks, "From whence has arisen the myth of Clinton the deficit hawk and Bush the king of red ink?"

Whence indeed? The real question, however, is, can't these guys even be bothered to pretend to tell the truth anymore? Look what Bowyer had to do to get his figures:

  • First, the only Clinton budget on his list is from 1993. But the budget for FY1993 was prepared by the GHW Bush administration. We were a third of the way through FY1993 by the time Clinton was inaugurated.

That's enough, really, to show that Bowyer simply doesn't care about making things up if that's what it takes to make his point, but, incredibly, there's more:

  • He claims that Clinton's deficits were larger "on average" than Bush's, ignoring the fact that Clinton inherited a deficit from GHW Bush and steadily decreased it, while GW Bush inherited a surplus from Clinton and has steadily squandered it.

  • Next he pretends that Bush's deficit is reasonable because "Nations at war borrow money." But the cost of the Iraq war isn't even in the budget yet and the cost of the war on terrorism is small compared to the size of the deficit.

  • And finally, he gripes that everyone is focusing obsessively on the 2004 budget, which is patently false. As he himself notes, it's the vast and growing long-term deficits that everyone is really complaining about.

And don't you like the fact that he goes all the way back to 1940 so that he can include all those nice World War II deficits? If you take those off the list, and correctly ascribe the 1993 budget to GHW Bush, you find that every single deficit on his greatest hits list is from a Republican president.

And who is Jerry Bowyer? He's the "chairman of Bowyer Media, a company specializing in radio and television production, print and internet publishing and economic analysis." I guess they couldn't dig up a single actual economist even a conservative one to put his name to this shameless piece of deceit. I'm not surprised.

UPDATE: TBOGG takes a closer look at Bowyer and sees the heavy hand of Richard Mellon Scaife behind him. What a surprise.

Kevin Drum 4:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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