Rocky Mountain News repeated Rove's misleading claims on budget deficit, Democrats' Iraq policy

A Rocky Mountain News article repeated Karl Rove's misleading claim that -- in the News' words -- “the Bush administration has cut taxes and lowered the deficit,” failing to note that Bush inherited a budget surplus when he took office. The article also reported that Rove “bashed Democrats for having a 'cut and run' policy toward Iraq” but did not note that the senior U.S. commander in Iraq has reportedly drafted a plan to withdraw a significant portion of U.S. troops by the end of 2007.

In a July 11 article about White House senior adviser Karl Rove's appearance at a Republican fundraiser in Denver, Rocky Mountain News reporters Michael Malik and Stuart Steers repeated Rove's misleading claim that -- in the News' words -- “the Bush administration has cut taxes and lowered the deficit.” In fact, while the White House predicts this year's budget deficit will be lower than previous deficits under the Bush administration, Bush inherited a budget surplus when he took office. The article also reported that Rove “bashed Democrats for having a 'cut and run' policy toward Iraq” but did not note that the senior U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., has reportedly drafted a plan to withdraw a significant portion of U.S. troops by the end of 2007.

On July 11, the White House Office of Management and Budget announced a budget deficit projection of $296 billion for fiscal year 2006 -- down from the $423 billion deficit the Bush administration had originally projected. As the Associated Press reported on July 11, the new deficit figure touted by Bush is “a slight improvement over 2005,” which saw a budget deficit of $318 billion. The new projection is also lower than the 2003 and 2004 budget deficits -- the two largest deficits ever recorded.

However, in repeating Rove's misleading claim that the Bush administration “lowered the deficit,” the News failed to note that Bush had, in fact, inherited a budget surplus when he took office. Thus, as illustrated by the NPR.org chart below, the Bush administration “lowered the deficit” only in relation to previous Bush administration deficits and deficit projections.

 The latest figures for the budget deficit are revised to $296 billion for 2006 instead of the $423

As Media Matters for America noted, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams reported on July 11 that “many economists and administration critics say the White House has deliberately inflated its own deficit projections in the past few years to score political points when the actual numbers came in lower.”

As a consequence of these persistent deficits, according to the Department of the Treasury, from the time Bush took office in January 2001 through July 2006, the national debt grew from $5.7 trillion to $8.4 trillion -- a 47 percent increase.

Media Matters for America also has noted the frequent use by Republican strategists like Rove of the phrase “cut and run” to denigrate Democratic proposals on the Iraq war. Like other media outlets, the News simply repeated Rove's words without acknowledging that, as The New York Times reported, Casey has “drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September.” Democrats have stated that Casey's plan is similar to a proposal supported by most Senate Democrats.

From the July 11 Rocky Mountain News article, headlined “Rove: Colorado a swing state” :

Rove struck some familiar chords as he roused the audience of about 200 people.

He said the Bush administration has cut taxes and lowered the deficit, and he discussed what Bush has done to make the economy grow. Rove also bashed Democrats for having a “cut and run” policy toward Iraq, said The New York Times couldn't keep a secret and applauded the work volunteers have done to get Bush elected.