How Does Ed Gillespie Define the Federal Budget Deficit?

Josh Marshall seems to have heard another whooper from the former RNC Chair:

Here for instance is serial bamboozler and former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie just moments ago on MSNBC waxing poetic about President Bush’s plan to balance the budget by 2012 and claiming that the last time the budget was balanced was in 1998. Unlike the more established Republican tradition of chat show lying, I’m not even sure what it is this goof is trying to hang his hat on with this whopper. Back on planet earth we know that the budget became balanced during the Clinton presidency and remained in balance until he left office in 2001.

Josh points to this CNN story:

Flush with tax revenues from a booming economy, the federal government posted a record $237 billion surplus for the budget year that ended in September, the Clinton administration announced Tuesday … The official announcement of the 2000 surplus comes only two weeks before voters elect a new president. A major point of contention between Vice President Al Gore, the Democrats’ presidential pick, and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republicans’ choice, has been what should be done with surpluses that are projected to total $4.6 trillion over the next decade.

Ah – the good old days. Table B-78 of the Economic Report of the President 2006 notes we had a unified surplus equal to $128 billion in 2001 as well. Could Gillespie be thinking of the on-budget surplus? But the on-budget account was not in surplus in 1998. We had a very small surplus in 1999 and an $86 billion surplus in 2000. But this account went back to deficits in 2001 with the expected deficit for this year being $543 billion. Whether one uses the on-budget deficit or the even larger general fund deficit, we will not see a balanced budget by 2012 if we follow George W. Bush’s plans.

Josh also provides this link to a cool graph of the unified surplus (deficit) from 1961 to 2006. Notice the projections have the deficit rising.