Tag: fiscal 2018

Trump Revenue Shortfall Was Just Like An Earnings Miss On Wall Street


You hear it on the financial news channels every time corporations report their earnings: A company that fails to achieve what Wall Street projected is said to have “missed” analyst expectations.

The federal government just had its own version of a big miss.

According to the U.S. Treasury, revenues for the fiscal 2018, which ended on September 30, were $202 billion less than had been expected a year earlier. As a result, the budget deficit spiked by 17 percent to $779 billion.

Both Wall Street’s and the federal government’s type of miss are remarkably alike.

First, Wall Street earnings and government revenue projections are both based on forward guidance provided by, respectively, the companies themselves and three government agencies — the U.S. Treasury, Office of Management and Budget and Congressional Budget Office.

Second, Wall Street updates its numbers through the year to account for the economy and higher or lower costs and sales. Washington revises its revenue estimates through the year based on the economy and changes in law.

Third, and most important, when determining whether the results are good or bad, both Wall Street and the federal government typically compare the actuals to what was projected to happen rather than what previously occurred.

Companies often complain vociferously about this and, when their results don’t meet expectations, point out that they were an improvement over what they achieved the previous year. The projections were wrong, they say.

The market typically ignores these CEO demands that their analysts use a different baseline

But voters often (especially these days) give great credence to those same type of complaints about federal revenues and insist that the previous year is the right comparison.

This past week was perhaps the best example in recent memory.

The Treasury reported that federal revenues for all of fiscal 2018 were $14 billion higher what was collected in 2017 and Republicans said that meant the tax cut enacted last December was doing what was promised (You should see some of my Twitter comments). In Wall Street terms, federal revenues “beat” expectations.

But that compares 2018 revenues to actual results from the previous year rather than expectations. When the correct comparison — to what the Treasury, OMB and CBO projected — is used, revenues fell by $202 billion and this was an unambiguous miss by the federal government.

This is where the big difference between a Wall Street and Washington miss comes into play.

Wall Street typically punishes a stock for a miss and analysts often downgrade it if they believe the results indicate that the outlook for the company has worsened.

By contrast, even if the revenue, deficit and debt outlook has worsened, voters, especially those who want to believe the tax bill will pay for itself, are upgrading their outlook for the Trump administration.

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter by clicking @thebudgetguy


New CBO Report Shows GOP Tax Bill Is The Only Reason The Deficit Is Increasing

No…The federal budget deficit definitely is not a spending problem.

In its just-released monthly budget review, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the federal deficit for fiscal 2018, which ended a week ago on September 30, was $782 billion, a $116 billion increase over the $666 billion deficit recorded in 2017. CBO said that revenues grew by just $13 billion and so were essentially flat compared to what the government collected in 2017. Spending grew by $129 billion, a 3.2 percent increase over 2017.

It would be easy — but very very wrong — to conclude that the increased spending was the reason the budget deficit rose from 2017 to 2018. After all, revenues were about the same both years while spending was higher.

But this overly simple explanation only works if you compare revenues and outlays to what was actually collected and spent the previous year. The explanation is the exact opposite when the substantively correct comparison — to what was expected in 2018 if all tax and spending laws had remained the same — is used.

In June 2017, CBO issued its updated “Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017-2027″ report that showed federal revenues rising in 2018 under current law to $3.5 trillion (Take a look at Table 13). That means the tax bill reduced revenues this past year by about $200 billion compared to what they would have been had it not been enacted.

In that same report, outlays in 2018 were projected to be $16 billion less under current law than the amount CBO now says was actually spent last year.

In other words, the real reason the budget deficit grew from 2017 to 2018 was because revenues were substantially less than what they would have been without the tax bill. Had it not been enacted, the deficit would have dropped below $600 billion instead of rising to close to $800 billion

This is not the spin anti-federal spending activists will use. Indeed, as I’ve posted about previously, even before the tax bill and its projected $1.5 trillion revenue loss was adopted, so-called conservative interest groups such as the Heritage Foundation were pushing the narrative that higher spending was the only reason for the deficit and revenues had nothing to do with it.

The two CBO reports cited above decisively show that’s just not true.


Trump’s Deficit Chickens Now Coming Home To Roost


The first of two official government reports that will be released this month showing that the federal budget deficit is soaring was issued on Monday when the Congressional Budget Office published it’s Monthly Budget Review for August.

According to CBO, the deficit through the first 11 months of fiscal 2018 was $895 billion, a $222 billion (32.8 percent) increase over the same period in 2017.

Some of the increase was the result of timing shifts, that is, spending that was made at the end of August because the first two days of September were on weekend. The deficit for the 11-month period would have been only $154 billion larger than 2017 had it not been for that.

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 The federal government typically runs a budget surplus in September so the final deficit for 2018 may be somewhat lower than the results through August. CBO said that the total deficit for the year will be close to the $793 billion estimate it made in its analysis of the Trump 2019 budget that it updated last month. That would make the year-over-year increase only 19.3 percent.

But put the number crunching wonkery aside and look at the big picture. Donald Trump, who as a candidate virtually guaranteed he would eliminate not just the budget deficit but the national debt, is doing neither.

It’s anything but fake news to say that just the opposite is true. Trump’s own Office of Management and Budget, whose primary responsibility is to protect the president’s behind on budget issues, agrees with CBO that the deficit will come close to or exceed $1 trillion a year through at least 2022.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t include spending for a space force, an infrastructure plan or a wall between the United States and Mexico. It also doesn’t include the projected $200 billion a year revenue loss from the new GOP tax bill the House will debate before the election or the additional spending that will be needed because of Hurricane Florence. And it certainly doesn’t include the lower revenues and higher spending that will happen if the economy slows below current expectations.

A combination of these things could easily cause the U.S. deficit to approach $2 trillion annually.

The next Trump deficit shoe to drop will occur next week when Trump’s own Treasury issues its own monthly report that is expected to agree with and confirm what CBO said this week.

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy






Treasury Confirms Trump’s Huge Budget Deficits Are Real


The U.S. Treasury reported this afternoon that the budget deficit through the first 10 months of fiscal 2018 was $685 billion, an almost 21 percent increase over the same period last year.

For all of 2018, Treasury is estimating that the deficit will be about $849 billion, 27 percent higher than 2017.

These numbers aren’t a surprise. The combination of lower revenues from the tax cut, higher interest payments on the national debt, increased Pentagon spending and no spending restraint anywhere else made the Trump spike in the budget deficit a certainty.

What is surprising is that no one in the Trump administration — not Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, not National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, not Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett and not Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — have so far even bothered to issue a vanilla statement about the Treasury’s numbers.

Given Trump’s promise during the campaign not just to balance the budget but to pay down the national debt, I would have expected at least a pro forma statement from someone in the administration saying that the deficit increase is terrible and that the government’s red ink will be coming down very soon.

Instead, the White House seems to be ignoring these new numbers in the hope that a Friday-afternoon-in-August-when-Congress-is-in-recess Treasury release will be ignored.

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy

GOP Won’t Be Able To Hide From It’s Big Deficits Before The Election After All


House and Senate Republicans who so far have successfully avoided talking about how their tax and spending policies are spiking the budget deficit won’t be able to pretend for much longer that the United States isn’t staring directly into a GOP-created fiscal policy abyss.

The U.S. Treasury and the Congressional Budget Office will issue separate reports just weeks before Election Day that show the actual 2018 deficit between $800 and $900 billion and the estimated 2019 deficit exceeding $1 trillion. The fiscal 2017 deficit was $665 billion.

The deficit numbers the GOP had hoped to bury at least until after the election will soon be available for all to see.

House and Senate Republicans so far have been able to avoid talking about the deficit by making a complete mockery of the Congressional Budget Act. Even though Congress is required by federal law to adopt an annual budget resolution (the only legislation all year that compares total revenues with total spending and forces representatives and senators to vote on the deficit), the GOP leadership decided early in 2018 to prevent that from happening.

No budget resolution meant no budget debate. No debate meant no media coverage. No coverage meant Republicans wouldn’t be asked to explain their votes in favor of trillion-dollar deficits when they had previously and emphatically demanded that the federal budget be balanced.

This cleverness will end when Treasury and CBO issue their reports this October in the final days of a fierce election. That will put the GOP’s breach of faith with its fiscal past on full display for all to see, report on, criticize and make snarky 280 character comments about.

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Given the Trump administration’s efforts to control the narrative on all issues and run roughshod over established rules and procedures, and given the president’s more-than-obvious belief that federal departments exist solely to do his bidding, delaying Treasury’s report until after the election would seem like something it would consider.

But while it’s possible that the White House could concoct a reason to order the report be held until after the election, Treasury’s Monthly Treasury Statement is expected, used and relied on by Wall Street. Delaying it for obvious political reasons may be a theoretical option but just isn’t likely.

In addition, the Congressional Budget Office has shown no willingness whatsoever to knuckle under to political pressure and so will almost certainly release its own Monthly Budget Review this October no matter what the Republican leadership demands it to do.

That means that the deficit numbers the GOP had hoped to bury at least until after the election will soon be publicly available.

This timing could not be worse for Republicans. Congress plans to be out of session by the time these two reports are issued so there will be no chance for the GOP incumbents running for reelection even to do something — like voting for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution — before the election.

In addition, on top of all the recent multiple swamp-like events involving Trump former and former allies, this soon-to-be-confirmed break with long-time GOP deficit orthodoxy is almost certain to push a number of more traditional Republicans to reconsider if or how they will vote this November.

Don’t Forget To Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy

Wait…Don’t Leave Just Yet…There’s So Much More:

Trump’s Deficits Will Cause Very Serious Challenges For Multiple Generations Of Americans
Here’s What I Told NPR This Morning About The Deficit (Spoiler Alert: It’s Not Pretty)
Trump’s Economic Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics Revealed For All To See
Ryan And McConnell: Lock’em Up 
This Is Why Trump Will Shut Down The Government
Raising The Chances Of A Government Shutdown This Fall To 60%
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Says CBO Was Right After All
Yes…Trump Will Shut Down The Government This Fall
You’ve Been Warned: Trump’s Trillion Dollar Budget Deficits Are Here To Stay