White House budget projections have little credibility

Posted on July 27, 2012 by


The acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients (pictured), had an odd take on the budget projections released today. The agency dropped its February prediction of growth from 2.7% to 2.3% for this year and from 3% to 2.7% for next year.

The one bright spot was an estimate that the deficit would drop this year from $1.327 trillion in the February report to $1.211. But for 2013, the budget office sees a rise from $901 billion to $991 billion.

So we scratched our heads when the White House blog wrote under Zients’ name that the slight improvement “reflects lower-than-expected spending, partially offset by lower-than-expected receipts.”

When a small percentage of the report is positive, to us that doesn’t add up to a small improvement. But looking at the big picture, history doesn’t look kindly at budget projections, which have been made regularly through the terms of many presidents.

The reasons include that circumstances counted on in the estimates often change and that politics get in the way of realistic predictions.

The figures given during the Obama administration have been way off what actually happened. We’ll see if today’s predictions follow the same pattern.

For a look at the Bush and Clinton administrations’ record, read these two articles from the Washington Post and ABC News:

Bush Budget Projects A Surplus by 2012

By Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 5, 2007

The budget that President Bush will submit to Congress today shows the federal deficit falling in each of the next four years and would produce a $61 billion surplus in 2012, administration officials said. But to get there, Bush is counting on strong economic growth, diminishing costs in the Iraq war and tight domestic spending to offset the cost of his tax cuts.

Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/04/AR2007020401174.html
Clinton Projects $1.9 Trillion Budget Surplus

by ABC News
W A S H I N G T O N, Dec. 28, 2000

President Clinton today projected that the United States will have a $1.9 trillion budget surplus over the next decade. He said the increase in the expected surplus means the government will be debt-free by 2010.

The fiscal 2001 budget surplus was projected at $256 billion, White House officials said. The fiscal 2000 surplus was $237 billion, officials said, which capped four straight years of budget surpluses.

This was the first time the country has had four straight (Read more at:)