Obama's opening debt deception: or, why $4 trillion isn't really $4 trillion 

President Obama will shortly announce his debt reduction plan, and the White House has already told reporters the headline number: $4 trillion. But the trick is, that number is over 12 years – as opposed to the standard 10-year budget window.

This is a clear and deliberate deception by the Obama administration. His Fiscal Commission set the $4 trillion target last year, which Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., upped to $4.4 trillion in his plan.

So Obama knew he had to get somewhere in that neighborhood to be taken seriously. Evidently, the numbers didn't add up, so his administration stretched the baseline to 12 years, hoping that headline writers would use the $4 trillion number, and the average person who doesn't follow budgeting conventions that closely wouldn't know the difference.

At the same time, the deficit estimate relies on the White House's own economic projections, which are much rosier than Congressional Budget Office projections.

Obama is no stranger to manipulating budget windows to his advantage. During the writing of health care legislation, Democrats delayed the enactment of the major spending provisions until 2014, shifting 98 percent of the spending to the last six years of the 10-year budget window just so he could say the bill cost “around $900 billion.”

 

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Philip Klein

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