Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Truth on the Deficit: The WSJ published a good piece today on what really is going on with the federal deficit, with truth meet perception in a head-on collision. To wit:
...over the past three years the federal deficit has shrunk by 58%. The Congressional Budget Office--not the White House--is estimating that the current year's deficit (for fiscal 2007) will fall to $172 billion.

Now you can cynically say that this is like a store "slashing" already high prices to a level that is merely competitive, but there's more to this story than mere spin:
U.S. federal debt as a share of GDP is falling again (see the top chart nearby). At 37% in 2006 and heading south, the U.S. figure compares to 52% in Germany, 43% in France, and 79% in Japan.

The article correctly notes that debt is one thing, while spending is another. The news here is middling:
From 2001-2005, outlays ballooned by $609 billion, or 33%, and Mr. Bush never did veto a spending bill. By contrast, on current pace his second term outlays will grow by 21%--hardly tightfisted, but a third slower.

Last, and perhaps more surprising to many, including yours truly, is that the % of GDP spent on defense is currently lower than it was under Carter, and well under the peak (in the last 30 years, that is) that Reagan set whilst fighting the indomitable Red Menace:
In fact, Mr. Bush's request would only bring defense outlays to 4.2% of GDP, or about 20% of total federal spending. That compares to 4.7% of GDP even under Jimmy Carter, and 6.2% of GDP in 1986 at the peak of the Reagan defense buildup...[note that under Slick Willie it fell to 3%]

Now mind you, the budget remains unbalanced, and while Bushie projects such balance by 2012, we all know he'll be long gone by then, and such projections (remember the Clinton "surpluses") are largely theatre. Now that the Dems are in charge, however, don't be surprised if he doesn't actually threaten to veto a spending bill -- I won't hold my breath however.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Is it over yet - the requisite Super Bowl XLI post: I don't have the initiative to look up our pre-season picks and predictions, so I'll just assume I completely freakin' dominated and got everything 110% right. I know I picked the Colts to win the championship, and they did, so the rest is meaningless anyway.

But my god, what an awful game. I'm sure Enobarbus didn't watch it (sports are best appreciated through the print medium, eh Eno?) so he was spared the meltdown of Chicago's pathetic offense. Indy's running D was bad, giving up some big gains, but they held when it mattered. Of course, when Grossman is flingin' it around you can pretty much stack the line and let the corners cover two or three receivers apiece.

Manning played ok, but not nearly well enough to deserve the full fellating he got from SteveYoung on ESPN last night (or this semi-fellating from John Clayton). He's got his ring and the legacy is safe, but he simply didn't need to be very good for them to win. If Indy's success this year proves anything it's that smart, safe, conservative football wins in the end. Boring, workmanlike efforts don't make for great highlight reels, but every team will be copying Tony Dungy's strategy next year. I predict an NFL season as enjoyable as a Soviet winter in 2008.

Our only hope is that the Bengals can stay out of jail long enough to lead a revolution. Really, with the turnover in coaches, a bunch of young, unproven QB's, the flame out of any team that takes Terrell Owens and Indy winning the Super Bowl, it won't be pretty. Cincy, New Orleans, Green Bay (Favre will always keep things exciting, till the day he plays with a walker) - they'll be among the few standouts. Oh joy!

Oh, and what was the deal with Prince, anyway? I'm not sure why every year we get another halftime performance from an act at least 10 years past their prime (although McCartney still rocked two years ago). Janet Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Prince. And can I say how much I hate medleys? Who came up with this idea? Seems like a leftover from the 1970's Variety Show era, something the Brady's or the Osmonds would have done every week. And did Prince sell the rights to his own songs, forcing him into lame renditions of Proud Mary and All Along The Watchtower? And the Foo Fighters? Who the hell covers the Foo Fighters?

At least I didn't watch the pre-game opening act. Cirque de Soleil, oh my! I think Roger Goodell is out to ruin my life.