Figures and Tables and Text and …

We’re in the thick of copy edits for BALANCE with the team at Simon and Schuster. It is fun, but intense. Glenn crushed it last Sunday — did the whole book manuscript in about six hours. The man is fast, and makes me feel like Fred Flintstone trying to yabba-dabba-do my stone age car uphill….

The most tedious part has been getting figures and tables up to date. We had dotted the manuscript with “Figure X here” and then had to backtrack and actually number each, fix the text, not to mention updating the figures with most current information. Here’s a snapshot of one that we use to compare economic power among different nations/regions (SA = Chile, Argentina, and Brazil; Europe = some mix of countries that is not just the Eurozone):

Inline image 1

One of the more frustrating issues to deconflict is the table/figure dealing with federal expenditure projections. In particular, why is there disagreement between CBO and OMB numbers, particularly on current and past Medicare outlays? This is bizarre, and arcane as well. Actually the latter probably explains why federal officials feel they can get away with monkeying around with the numbers to obscure real costs. “Who’s gonna call us on it?  It’s boring!”  Well, kudos to J.D. Foster at the Heritage Foundation who explains how the OMB is misleading.

In the OMB figures, offsetting receipts such as Medicare premium income are subtracted from total Medicare outlays. This means the figure in the budget is not total Medicare spending as might be presumed from and as is suggested by the headings in the various tables. Rather, the budget presents a measure of the net spending on Medicare that must be financed through other means besides premiums, such as payroll tax receipts and transfers from the General Fund. This is a valid and useful concept, but not the most important, nor the one expected by the reader or suggested by the headings.



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