PLAYING GAMES….Joel Havemann of the LA Times explains what’s behind the Bush administration’s breathless news that federal revenues are up and the deficit is down:

This will be the third year in a row that the administration put forth relatively gloomy deficit forecasts early on, only to announce months later that things had turned out better than expected. To some skeptics, it’s beginning to look like an economic version of the old “expectations” game.

….To divert attention from [a worsening fiscal situation], critics suggest, the administration has borrowed a gambit favored by political candidates, who commonly try to lower expectations about how they will fare to magnify the apparent size of their victory if they win.

In the case of the budget, they say, the administration has begun to low-ball its revenue estimates at the beginning of a budget cycle to set up good news a few months later.

Now see? That wasn’t so hard, was it?