On Wednesday, Stan Collender, author of the popular “Fiscal Fitness” column for Roll Call, and partner at Qorvis Communications, gave AABPA members his thoughts on the President’s budget summary released last week.
Stan pointed out that the summary is not a document for budget geeks and beltway insiders hoping for data to scrutinize and pick apart. The details of the President’s plan aren’t expected for several weeks. Rather it is a publication for people outside of DC, people who need or want assurance that the President is in control and has a plan of action.
Stan remarked that he found the most important table in the budget to be the economic forecast; when does the administration think the economy will turn around? He commented that the forecast is certainly optimistic, given the recent GDP data released. While plausible, he wondered if the forecast was probable?
When the budget was released, the administration said that this budget was an honest accounting of the President’s spending plan and that there were no gimmick in the numbers. To that end, the budget includes items, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax, and an allotment for disaster spending, that have not been included in budgets over the last several years. Stan and other members pointed out, however, that including that spending would could prove to be politically expedient as well. The higher the numbers are to start, the more credit the President will get for cutting deficit spending in the future.
Stan wrapped-up the session by cautioning that the devil is always in the details and budgeteers will have to wait for the full budget document to see exactly how the President proposes to meet to the conflicting goals of stimulating the economy and reducing deficit spending.