Riddle me this, Little Scottie: How can a budget that actually increases the deficit be portrayed as reducing the deficit?
Only the gaggle knows for sure.
Q Scott, the President described his budget this morning as lean. But the projected deficit for 2006, minus money for Iraq is higher than the deficit this year, minus money for Iraq. So how does that — how does he square his terminology of calling this a lean budget with the deficit realities here?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, just as you have to look at the budget over a series of years, you need to look at how we’re addressing the deficit over a series of years. The Director of OMB outlined the 2006 budget, and he talked about how we are on track to meet the President’s commitment to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
Q But a higher deficit this year, without Iraq, again, and a higher deficit projection for next year, minus Iraq, than this year, minus Iraq — that doesn’t exactly suggest a lean budget.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think Director Bolten talked about this. I disagree with you. I think if you look at the budget, it shows that we are exercising even greater spending restraint than we have in the previous few years.
Q So if you can just illuminate for us, if you’re doing such a great job at restraining spending, why is the deficit projection higher for next year than it was for this year?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you have to go back and look at what we’ve been through over the last few years, John. I can go through that again, but I think you’ve heard it, everything that we’ve been through. And we’re in a time of war. You must remember that, as well. And there are important challenges that we have an obligation to meet, first and foremost, to protect the American people, to defend the homeland from attack and to make sure we win the war on terrorism. That is our nation’s highest priority.
Scottie’s Suppository is in da’ house? Your Jeff Gannon question of the day.
Q In his press conference two weeks ago, the President expressed confidence that the press would give administration policies an objective look. Last week the White House demanded and got a correction of the Washington Post story about Social Security, and yesterday Secretary Rumsfeld took Tim Russert to task for selective editing of his comments last year about vehicle armor that he said completely mischaracterized his remarks. Is this a sign that the White House is going to pursue a more aggressive approach to the media, considering in the past it rarely challenged erroneous reporting?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we’ve always worked to set the record straight when we think something was wrong, and we will continue to do so.