The White House says the federal deficit for fiscal year 2003 will be “comfortably under $400 billion,” even though it estimated in July that it would be $455 billion.
This is nice, in a way, but for a couple of things: The deficit for fiscal year 2004, which began with October, is still supposed to be $480 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office; also, the White House isn’t very good at math. Notice that its estimate is off by, yes, more than $55 billion, and possibly as much as $75 billion. (Bloomberg News points out that in July, when the White House was saying $455 billion, its survey of bond-trading firms averaged a deficit of $432 billion -- still off by a significant amount, if you can trust White House figures at all, but you’d think the White House would be off less than a private-industry guess, right?)
It doesn’t matter anyway, at least according to the Bush administration, because although this is a record deficit in dollars, even at the lowest end of the projections, it’s small compared with our gross domestic product. Short of 4 percent of GDP, in fact.
What’s odd is that I distinctly recall -- er, remember -- Republicans complaining about the size of California’s deficit, which is almost $38 billion. But the state’s Department of Finance says gross state product as of 2002, the latest figures available, is $1.4 trillion, making California’s the fifth-largest GDP in the world, if it were a country instead of a state. That’s behind the United States as a whole, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom, but ahead of France, China, Italy, Canada and Mexico (and everyone else).
So isn’t $38 billion just about 2.7 percent of the state’s GSP?
So what the hell are they complaining about?