In the past week, right-wing media have predictably spent a lot of time dismissing President Obama's budget proposal, sometimes with outright false and misleading claims. The Washington Examiner added to the heap of budget falsehoods with a whopper in today's editorial, titled, "Obama's budget assumptions only exist in fantasyland."
The editorial begins by saying that "healthy public policy cannot be based on fantasy foundations," then zooms in on a few numbers among the budget's assumptions (emphasis added):
Consider President Obama's 2012 federal budget proposal in this context. Rosy scenario certainly applies to the Obama budget's assumptions about economic growth, unemployment, and inflation between now and 2013. The president's proposal assumes real gross domestic product growth of 3.1 percent this year, 4 percent next year and 4.5 percent the year after. To grasp the unreality of that projection, recall that in only four years of the past 30 has the economy grown 4 percent or more. Two of those years, 1983 (4.52 percent) and 1984 (7.19 percent), were at the outset of the economic boom sparked by President Reagan's tax cuts. The other two years, 1997 (4.46 percent) and 1999 (4.83 percent), both followed on compromises between President Clinton and Republican congressional majorities that restrained federal spending and debt, and cut taxes. White House assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, the proposed Obama budget raises taxes, adds more debt and raises federal spending.
Indeed, projections of 4 percent GDP growth (and higher) would sound pretty unrealistic -- if the Examiner's numbers were true. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has these exact numbers in a chart called "Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product." From 1981 to 2010, gross domestic product, in chained dollars, grew by "4 percent or more" a total of...nine times. About half of them occurred while Reagan was president (in 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1988), and about half occurred while Clinton was president (in 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000). That number is even higher when the percent change is calculated in today's dollars -- 24 times -- so that can't be the figures the Examiner was using, either.
Hmm. Guess Obama's predictions aren't quite as "fantasyland" as the Examiner's readers were led to believe.