Merline the Wizard

John Merline kindly stops by this humble blog to dispute our assertion that he is an illiterate liar, and writes in the comments to this post:

Interesting line of argument, in that you take Bush’s word for it on his budget numbers when it is convenient, and dispute his forecast when that suits your case.

Our interest piqued, we read on:

Defense spending:

Total, Discretionary outlays 2005 $473,697; 2006 $510,361; 2007 $503,055. (Looks like a decrease to me.)

We’re not a fancy pants former editorial board member at USA Today, but it’s worth repeating that given that every estimate of the War on Terror has thus far been below the actual cost, given that no one is allowed to know wen the War on error will end, or who might be attacked next, it’s going to be hard for us to believe we should announce a planned decline of $7bn in FY 2007 (when FY2006 is far from over) as proof that Bush is reducing defense spending. Especially since (as we wrote earlier) that core defense spending continues to grow — a point the administration itself has made.

Amazingly, John isn’t dead done yet:

Total, Discretionary outlays 2005 $38,358; 2006 $43,846; 2007 $42,765 (I have no idea where you got your numbers, but here is the link to the page with the correct ones (see page 14)

Gee, John, we got our numbers from the page we linked to (fancy internets!). This one! You can find the numbers listed under “Total, Homeland Security Funding.” You can even choose to limit yourself to Homeland Security Funding, Homeland security: 2006, enacted: 25,503, 2007, requested: 27,776.

John is feeling better, and thinks he’s going to go for a walk:

2007 $360.5 b; 2011 $493.7 b (That’s an increase of 36.9% over five years. By way of comparison, Bill Clinton’s last budget called for a five year increase in Medicare of 30%. I don’t seem to recall anyone complaining about Medicare cuts then.)

Hmmm, Sadly, No!? Besides, as we mentioned, without taking into account the cost of maintaining services to their current level is taken into account, discussing whether a smaller increase is “less generous” than a bigger one is utterly pointless. A 10% raise in a country with 20% inflation doesn’t leave you better off than a 5% raise in a country with 2% inflation. Getting to the bottom of this question, however, would require more than a few minutes of Tech Central Hackery.

At least John feels happy.


Comments: 5


Maybe page 14 of the pdf he linked says they estimate a decrease in discretionary DHS outlays, but page one says:
The President’s Budget:
• Increases spending on non-defense homeland security activities by 8 percent Government-wide compared to 2006;
• The 2007 programmatic Budget request for the Department is $35.6 billion, an increase of $2.3 billion (7 percent) over 2006;
• Provides $10.5 billion for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to improve border security and immigration enforcement,
adding 1,500 Border Patrol agents (an increase of 12 percent over 2006) and more
than 6,000 detention beds (an increase of 32 percent over 2006), and lays the
foundation for immigration reform; and
• Increases funding for Urban Area Security Grants for those metropolitan regions most at risk due to their concentrations of citizens and key assets and continues the Targeted Infrastructure Protection grants for securing transportation assets and
other critical infrastructure.

Page two says:
Homeland security requires a coordinated national commitment with cooperation among all levels of government, the private sector, and individual citizens to be successful. The Federal Government continues funding this
high priority in 2007, providing $3.2 billion
in non-defense homeland security spending over 2006, a more than eight-percent increase.


In 2007, homeland security programmatic spending within DHS will increase by $2.3 billion, or 9 percent.

page 3:
The 2007 Budget provides more than $3 billion dollars for the Border Patrol (an increase of 29
percent over 2006)

etc etc etc

Finally, total discretionary outlay estimates are but one facet of the budgets compared, and are given without any indication of how they got the numbers. Why should we give it more weight than, say, the “Total, Discretionary budget authority (net):
2005 actual $29,429
2006 estimated $30,626 2007 estimated $30,932” line?


Oh silly tigrismus, logic and proportion don’t mean anything at all! Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall!


today is quite a day for championship smackdowns. first, the Editors, now Sadly No. enjoyable. now just 3 more hours until I can leave work.


Oooow! Not….MATH! How could you? I’m a BIMBO!


Seems to me more and more of the “defense” spending, anyway, is either being transferred to other departments (NASA, Energy, HomeLandSec) or is being done on-the-fly through additional appropriations, as for Iraq/Afghanistan. So I’d suspect the 2007 DoD “decrease” is just more lying from those who make lying a way of life.


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