The Obama administration's statement that the government will not be adding to the debt by the middle of the decade clashes hard against the facts, Republicans say, leaving officials straining to justify the budget claim they've pushed repeatedly over the past few days.
As it turns out, the administration is not counting interest payments. That means the budget team plans to have enough money to pay for ordinary spending programs by the middle of the decade. But it won't have the money to pay off those pesky -- rather, gargantuan -- interest payments. So it will have to borrow some more, in turn increasing the debt and increasing the size of future interest payments year after year.
So how then, visibly agitated Republicans asked, can the administration claim that its 2012 spending plan sets the country on a course to "pay for what we spend" in just a few years?
"We're still going further into debt, massively," Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., told White House Budget Director Jack Lew at a budget hearing Tuesday, accusing the administration of "double-talk."