Media Blog

The Conspiracy Conspiracy

A news report in the LA Times today accuses Bush administration officials of intentionally lowballing revenue estimates so that revenues assuredly exceed expectations. To back up the claim, the LAT reports that revenues have exceeded expectations for the past three years. Therefore, we are to conclude, the Bush administration is conspiring to game the system.

I checked into Treasury Department revenue estimations and how they compare to mid-season revisions for each of the past ten years (I found the data here). These reports paint a more complex picture.

As you can see, mid-season estimates exceeded initial estimates for each of the last four years of Bill Clinton’s presidency — a period of rapid economic expansion. Mid-seaon estimates had to be adjusted down for the first three years of George W. Bush’s presidency — a recession. And for the past three years — another boom — mid-season estimates have exceeded initial estimates.
This pattern can only indicate one thing: A conspiracy to manipulate revenue estimates that reaches to the highest levels of the Bush White House!
Oh, wait. That would be the highly paranoid, irrational conclusion. The rational conclusion would be that revenue estimates tend to be too high or too low depending on the direction of the economy. In periods of rapid economic expansion, Treasury tends to lowball estimates. In recessions or periods of slower growth, Treasury’s estimates tend to be too high.
I know budget data can be pretty boring stuff, but there is a larger point buried in all of this, and that is: The media, led by its allies on the left, try at every turn to paint this White House and its occupant as conspiratorial and corrupt using flimsy, incomplete or just plain fabricated evidence.
Thus, an administration effort to rebut a deceptive critic becomes a conspiracy to thuggishly ”out” his CIA wife. The presentation of flawed intelligence becomes a conspiracy to “lie” us into war. And even the underestimation of national receipts becomes a conspiracy to “low-ball” revenue estimates “to set up good news a few months later.”
I’m not saying that conspiracies never happen. But a growing part of the media believe that the insidious abuse of power is a necessary component of anything this administration does. And they’re no longer expressing such views on the editorial pages. It’s openly alleged in the news. And there’s no telling how much worse it’s going to get the closer we get to November.

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