I have to admit this new article by Charles Babington in the Washington Post sorta pisses me off. The article ("Tax Cut Plan Filled With Dubious Spending Predictions") gives a bracingly frank run down of all the false premises, implausible assumptions, dishonest budget scoring gimmicks, and simple lies that went into making the Bush budget appear (to the very credulous, mind you) to add up.
Here's one brief passage from the article:
Why did congressional and White House negotiators adopt these spending projections? Because without them, there was virtually no way they could come up with numbers suggesting the nation could afford to forego $1.35 trillion in revenue over 11 years.The problem is that there's nothing in Babington's article that wasn't completely obvious six months ago when the Budget was being debated. So why wait till now to spill the beans?
The legislation is more political creature than fiscal plan. It originated in George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. He called for a $1.6 trillion tax cut, which the Senate eventually whittled to $1.35 trillion. Once they agreed on the targeted amount, negotiators juggled projections and assumptions Â several of them quite implausible Â until the numbers fit.
I fear the answer is that during the actual debate the (foolish, to my mind) canons of newspaper journalism (i.e., presenting both sides of the argument) mandated that both sides' arguments be presented with equal merit, even though one was more or less false on its face.
Now that the whole thing has fallen apart after only a few months it's okay to state the obvious.