W.H. hikes deficit estimate by $2T

By Amie Parnes and Eamon Javers
|  Friday, Aug 21, 2009  |  Updated 7:30 PM CDT
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White House Hikes Deficit Estimate by $2 Trillion

The White House

President Barack Obama reacts to a comment during the daily economic briefing in the Oval Office with Vice President Joe Biden on July 30.

The White House is likely to dramatically increase its projected 10-year budget deficit estimate next week by nearly $2 trillion, senior administration officials said Friday.

Obama administration officials have concluded the economy was much worse last year — and tax revenues much lower — than they had initially assumed, which means that the estimated budget deficit will increase from $7 trillion to about $9 trillion over the coming decade.

The planned revision was first reported by Reuters, and White House officials confirmed that account for POLITICO.

There’s no doubt the revision will be interpreted as bad news for an administration whose deficit spending has emerged as a political Achilles' heel.

Already, Republicans have been gaining political traction by accusing Obama of budget-busting spending.

Earlier in the week, even billionaire investor Warren Buffett — a political supporter of Obama — wrote in an op-ed that massive spending leaves the nation in “uncharted fiscal territory.” Still, echoing the Obama line, he said stimulus spending is necessary in the short term, but that the government must take aggressive steps to curtail spending after the economy begins to grow again.

That’s why any worsening of the deficit forecast is likely to be seen as bad news inside the White House. The timing of the story’s release fits a classic Washington media strategy of dumping bad news late on Fridays, as voters are less likely to hear about news that breaks on Friday nights and appears on a Saturday.

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