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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Deficits to exceed $300 billion, first for yearly federal budget

WASHINGTON — The government is on track to amass annual federal deficits this year and next exceeding $300 billion for the first time. Republicans insist the red ink would not be a record, a contention Democrats reject in a linguistic duel less about economics than politics.
“They’re not always engaged in an academic search for truth,” Indiana University economics professor Willard Witte said of both parties.
Economists agree the most meaningful way to compare historic budget figures is to factor in changes in the dollar’s value or the size of the economy. Republicans say that when inflation is considered, there have been nine shortfalls since World War II worse than the projected deficits for 2003 and 2004.
Even so, that argument is part of a weeks-long GOP campaign to downplay their deficit forecasts in hopes of aiding congressional passage of President Bush’s proposed $1.46 trillion in fresh tax cuts over the next decade.
“They’re engaged in trying to carry the day in some policy argument, ” Witte said of the two parties, “so they’re bound to interpret the truth in the light that makes their case most strongly.”
Republicans and Democrats always compete for words and numbers that help them define an issue most favorably. Republicans eager to abolish the tax on large estates call it the “death” tax, while Democrats trying to taint Bush’s proposed new tax cuts label them the “leave-no-millionaire-behind” plan, a play on his “no-child-left-behind” education initiative.
In the budget Bush sent Congress last month, he projected shortfalls of $304 billion this year and $307 billion next — numbers that war and other factors are expected to make worse.
Until now, the $290 billion deficit of 1992 under the first President Bush has never been surpassed.
“How can they say it’s not a record? You don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to know $304 billion is more than $290 billion,” said Tom Kahn, Democratic staff director of the House Budget Committee.

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