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Monday, December 09, 2019

CBO: If Congress Does Nothing, Deficit Gone Before 2020

The United States Congress–to be fair, the Senate in particular–is great at inaction.

Despite a Democratic trifecta in government from 2009 to the end of 2010, the Employee Free Choice Act, a cap-and-trade bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and a litany of key economic policy appointments–especially to the Federal Reserve Board–died in the world’s most “deliberative” (read: slow) body.

But two charts released Wednesday by the CBO and flagged by Brian Beutler at TPM point out what most of us don’t realize–if Congress stays true to form and does nothing, and lets existing law go into effect over the next decade, the deficit (not the debt) conservatives and Tea Party types can’t get over will be erased entirely.

This assumes the deficit-reducing Affordable Care Act–Obama’s healthcare law–stays in effect, but perhaps most importantly, that the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2012, as the law currently requires.

Also important is that a doc-fix–artificially boosting reimbursement rates by Medicare at the behest of the powerful doctors’ lobby, something Congress does every year–isn’t put into place, draining the federal treasury of far less revenue.

Then again, if Congress really acts like its normal self, howls for extending tax cuts for everyone–even the mega rich–and doling out subsidies to entrenched interests will fall on receptive ears, and lawmakers will be jilted into action, exploding the deficit before going back into hibernation, occasionally waking up for the “serious conversation” about controlling the debt. [Talking Points Memo]

 

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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