The Washington Post

Honey, I shrunk the budget!

Nearly three months have passed since Congress struck a deal on discretionary spending, but apparently that was cutting it too close for the folks at the White House budget office.

President Obama delayed the release of his budget request by 30 days and then on Tuesday put out a truncated document that fails to include hundreds of pages of data typically presented in separate volumes called "Analytical Perspectives" and "Historical Tables."

Administration officials say they'll put out the rest of the data next week. In the meantime, the most important omission is probably the lack of a narrative about the economic assumptions the White House used to put the budget together.

As the White House noted in last year's Analytical Perspectives, "the single most important variable that affects the accuracy of the budget projections is the forecast of the growth rate of real GDP." If the budgeteers get GDP growth wrong, just about everything else will be wrong, too, from the abundance of tax revenue to the size of the budget deficit.

To be fair, the White House gave us bare bones economic assumptions in the budget Summary Tables (S-12on page 206, for those of you following along at home). And the White House numbers for GDP and unemployment do not, in fact, appear to be so far off from the  projections recently released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Still, White House assumptions about how the economy will perform over the next few years are almost always a major point of discussion on budget day. And this year, there's just not a whole lot of information.

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Lori Montgomery covers U.S. economic policy and the federal budget, focusing on efforts to tame the national debt.
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