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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press NYT Gives Pointless Numbers on California's Budget

NYT Gives Pointless Numbers on California's Budget

Saturday, 06 November 2010 07:39

In an article on the challenges faces Jerry Brown, California's newly elected governor, the NYT tells readers that the state faces a $20 billion dollar budget deficit. It notes that Brown left his successor with a $1.8 billion deficit when he left office in 1982.

These numbers will be completely meaningless to almost all of the NYT's readers since few have an idea as to how large California's economy is today compared with 1982. The current deficit is equal to roughly 1.1 percent of $1.8 trillion California's gross state product (GSP). By contrast, the $1.5 billion deficit in 1982 would have been equal to a bit less than 0.4 percent of California's $390 billion GSP in that year. This means that the burden posed by California's current deficit is almost three times as large as the burden that Brown passed on to his successor.

Reporters are supposed to have time to look this stuff up, readers don't. 

Comments (3)Add Comment
written by zinc, November 06, 2010 8:17
Thank God the California budgetary process was brought to the nation as a whole by non-other than former Union organizer, Democrat, and actor turned Republican theologian, Wrongald Rayguns.
CA health cost increases >>.CA's budget deficit
written by Rachel, November 06, 2010 11:47
Another metric that could have been used to put California's deficit in proportion: the rate of per capita health cost increases. They rose 26% faster than GDP over the last decade, closer to 11% in the decade of the nineties. So suppose that Californians (1/8 US population) are spending $300 billion on health care now. If per capital spending had gone up at the rate of the 90s, then perhaps CA would be spending just $262 billion.

So it looks like California health providers managed to get hold of a $38 billion bonus this year. Twice the size of that deficit. Just something else NYT might want to look at.
California Budget Deficit
written by sherparick, November 07, 2010 9:37
It should also be noted that both events, 1982 and now, the economy went into a deep recession and that Government deficits are a natural and counter-cyclical response to the private sector downturn, the result of falling tax revenues and and increased unemployment benefits and other transfer payments. But we are a nation that can neither add nor subtract and are run by sadists who like to see other people punished for the nation's sins.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.