AP knows how to write a shock and awe lead:
The federal budget deficit is running at a pace that is more than double last year’s imbalance through the first four months of the budget year.
But this was for the four months from October to January with:
For January, the surplus totaled $17.8 billion. That was down from a January 2007 surplus of $38.2 billion. The government’s books are often in surplus in January because it is a month when many individual taxpayers make a quarterly estimated payment.
If this story was not already silly enough, AP reports what the White House is saying about future projected deficits:
While the administration is projecting that the deficit for the current 2008 budget year will total $410 billion and decline only slightly to $407 billion in 2009, it projects a significant improvement after those years. Bush’s budget said that the president’s goal of getting the budget back into balance in 2012, three years after he leaves office, is still achievable, forecasting a balance that year of $48 billion.
Yes, AP did say private forecasters called this unrealistic but it might have helped the reader know why if AP bothered to itemize all the assumptions one has to make to get to the rosy forecast – such as Bush not getting his way on making those tax cuts permanent.