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President Bush is expected to reiterate his claim that he has a plan to cut the deficit in half in his State of the Union Speech. First and foremost, his "plan" is based on false budget assumptions which "omit a series of very likely or inevitable costs in taxes, defense spending, and other areas." But equally as important is that the Administration's changing attitude towards the deficit calls into question whether they even take it seriously. Just look at the chronological evolution:

WE DON'T HAVE A DEFICIT

2/27/01: "[We have a] balanced budget, and big surpluses…We should approach our nation's budget as any prudent family would." – President Bush

WE WON'T HAVE A DEFICIT IF WE CUT TAXES ON THE WEALTHY

3/27/01: "We can proceed with tax relief without fear of budget deficits, even if the economy softens." – President Bush

WE HAVE A DEFICIT – BUT IT WILL BE SMALL

1/29/02: "Our budget will run a deficit that will be small and short-term." – President Bush

ACTUALLY, I ALWAYS SAID WE'D HAVE A DEFICIT…

6/7/02: "I remember campaigning in Chicago and one of the reporters said, 'Would you ever deficit spend?' I said, 'Only–only–in times of war, in times of economic insecurity as a result of a recession or in times of national emergency.' Never did I dream we'd have a trifecta." – President Bush

…ACTUALLY, HE DIDN'T PREDICT THE DEFICIT

6/9/02: News media report that Bush never made this pledge on the campaign. As Tim Russert said, "We have checked everywhere and we've even called the White House as to when the president said [the trifecta caveat] when he was campaigning in Chicago, and it didn't happen."

OK, WE HAVE A DEFICIT – AND THAT'S BAD

8/17/02: "We cannot go down the path of soaring budget deficits." – President Bush

ACTUALLY, DEFICITS AREN'T REALLY BAD

Early 2003: "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." – Vice President Dick Cheney

1/3/03: "[We have] returned to an era of deficits… [But] we ought not hyperventilate about this issue." – White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels

3/8/03: The WP reported, "Daniels said the White House is not worried about 'the dimension of today's deficits, and tomorrow's for that matter.'"

OK, DEFICITS ARE BAD – AND THEY NEED TO BE FIXED

2/3/03: "My Administration firmly believes in controlling the deficit and reducing it." – President Bush

WE ADMIT, THE BAD DEFICIT WAS NOT CREATED BY THE WAR

2/4/03: "Even if we had never been attacked, and incurred no costs of war or recovery from September 11th…we still would have gone into deficit." – White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels

I DON'T CARE WHAT THE NUMBERS SAY – WE'RE BLAMING THE BAD DEFICIT ON THE WAR

4/24/03: "This nation has got a deficit because we have been through a war." – President Bush

WE REALLY TRULY CARE ABOUT THE DEFICIT

9/13/03 "I am a deficit hawk. So is the president." – Vice President Dick Cheney

THE BIG BAD DEFICIT THAT WE SAY WAS CREATED BY THE WAR (BUT WASN'T) WILL BE FIXED SOON

12/10/03 "We can cut the deficit in half." – Joshua Bolten

WHAT RATIONALE IS NEXT?

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