What Happens If a Deficit Falls and Almost No One Reports It?

February 13th, 2007 6:09 AM

U.S. Tax Revenues Up 9.7% Through Four Months, Deficit Down 57%; U.S. Media Outlets Mostly Ignore the News

There's a good chance you didn't hear about this (original US Treasury report is here):

Both Brian Wesbury at FT Portfolios and yours truly have to confess to being wrong so far this year on revenue growth. We both have been thinking (Wesbury here, BizzyBlog here) that it’s going to come in at 9%, but as you see, through four months it’s actually pushing 10%.

Even with spending control slipping a bit (up 6.4% in January 2007 compared to January 2006), the deficit is 57% lower through the first four months of FY07 than it was at the same time in FY06. I believe that merits a "Wow."

There is a very real possibility that the federal budget will be in a surplus situation when President Bush hands over the keys to the White House in January 2009. Four months ago, I first suggested that it might very well happen. Brian Wesbury now agrees. The Skeptical Optimist has seen this happening for an even longer time.

While there is some coverage of the budget news -- this Yahoo! search at about 6:30 a.m. this morning on "federal deficit" (without quotes) has about 20 citations in the first 70 listings going back to the time of the yesterday's Treasury release -- there is no disputing its relatively muted treatment. The online versions of the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today do not have links to the news on their home pages, or even on their business section home pages (USAT does have an "On Deadline" blog entry). The Times has a fairly long article (may require registration) comparing the current expansion, which started in 2003, to the early years of the Clinton economic expansion, but does not bring out yesterday's news about the shrinking deficit.

ABCnews.com? Nope (not on home page or at Money & Business). MSNBC? Get real ("New evidence bolsters teen driver training" is apparently a more important home-page business story listing; there is no mention of the Treasury release on MSNBC's business page). CBSnews.com? Surely you jest (not on home page or business page). Fox? Sorry (not on Main, Business, or "U.S." home pages).

An exception? The BBC's business home page (Note: The home-page link to the story was taken off shortly after the picture below was taken):

BBC apparently believes that the falling US deficit is of more interest to its British readers than the formerly Mainstream Media believes it is to US news consumers.

Again, what happens if a deficit falls and almost no one reports it?

The original BizzyBlog post reacting to yesterday's Treasury report is here.