Slate Mocks Washington Deficit Talk

Slate‘s John Dickerson posted a pretty wonky piece last night about “how to know when someone is giving you the business” when they talk about the specifics, or lack thereof, of the budget deficit.

He details a phone briefing for reporters held by “senior White House officials” which gave next to no details about budget specifics. One brave reporter, Laura Meckler of WSJ, asked why no details were being given, considering the budget will be released in two weeks. Surely, these senior officials knew what was in the budget?

But she was told she’d have to wait the two weeks: “There’ll be plenty of details about these proposals and lots of other proposals when the budget actually comes out.”

Dickerson says there isn’t only one way to be unspecific about deficit reduction, and he details some others. This is just a sampling:

  • the Diet Tomorrow: “Suggest new programs but don’t say how you’ll pay for them.”
  • Fear: “Say that any spending reductions beyond those you like will shut down the government.”
  • and, of course, the Blue Ribbon Dodge: “Call for a commission and when it offers suggestions, ignore them.”