President Barack Obama is convening his "fiscal summit" today to figure out how to bring the feds' spending to heel. The work, he says,
"…begins on Monday, when I will convene a fiscal summit of independent experts and unions, advocacy groups and members of Congress to discuss how we can cut the trillion-dollar deficit that we've inherited."
Which means that Obama has already shaved $300 billion off the deficit, which his own White House just put at $1.3 trillion. Even at numbers that inconceivable, $300 billion isn't a rounding error.
And, in the best tradition of B.S. D.C. accounting methods, the $1.3 trillion figure doesn't include the nearly $800 billion in stimulus spending or the $275 billion to forestall mortgage defaults or war costs for FY2009 or whatever TARP 2 costs, so the actual deficit figure (assuming revenue projections are good, which they likely aren't) is somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion at a bare minimum. At $1.3 trillion, the deficit would be 9.2 percent of GDP, a figure not seen since World War II. Under Ronald Reagan, whose deficits scared the bejeezus out of most people, the biggest deficit amounted to 6.4 percent of GDP. Go here for a chart. It may well be that government deficits don't have as big an impact on the economy (for good or ill) as is commonly assumed. Still, it sure would be comforting if the people in charge of the federal government would show they can do basic math.
But hey, the important thing is that we're finally talking about fiscal repsonsibility now that the stimulus package is law.
Update: Due to my error, this post originally put the White House deficit estimate in billions, not trillions. Due to a server error, a double post and about a dozen comments, including one that called attention to my error(s), were deleted.