The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

The budget deficit is now at its lowest point since 2008, according to the Treasury Department.

Government spending exceeded revenues by $680.3 billion in fiscal year 2013, down more than 37 percent from FY 2012’s budget of $1.09 trillion and down 51 percent from its peak in 2009.

While the deficit is still historically large in pure dollar amounts, it’s actually lower as a share of gross domestic product, the key measure of the output of the entire economy, than the average deficits racked up by both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as economist Justin Wolfers pointed out Thursday morning.

Reagan grew the average deficit to 4.2 percent after inheriting Jimmy Carter’s average of 2.7 percent. George H.W. Bush averaged deficits that were 4.3 percent as a share of GDP. George W. Bush inherited Bill Clinton’s surplus and still ended up with deficits that averaged 3.4 percent as a share of GDP, leaving President Obama a deficit that was larger than 10 percent as a share of the economy.

Even before this year, the deficit was already falling at its fastest rate since World War II. Revenues collected by the Treasury accounted for 79 percent of this year’s deficit cut. The 13.3 percent growth in government receipts comes from ending some of the Bush tax cuts and from job growth, with 1.6 million workers added to payrolls this year. The automatic cuts known as the sequestration played a smaller role, as government spending dipped by 2.4 percent.

The budget debate has focused on eliminating the short-term deficit, with most Americans under the misconception that government spending and the deficit are growing.

But economic growth is the key to balancing the budget, notes former Clinton and Obama advisor Larry Summers.

Data from the CBO imply that an increase of just 0.2 percent in annual growth would entirely eliminate the projected long-term budget gap,” he noted recently in the Washington Post. “Increasing growth, in addition to solving debt problems, would also raise household incomes, increase U.S. economic strength relative to other nations, help state and local governments meet their obligations and prompt investments in research and development.”

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Fort Worth Police at the scene of a violent crime.

Photo by Brandon Harer (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

If you're worried by the rise in violent crime — a real and troubling phenomenon — don't ask Republicans for solutions. All they can offer is a blame game that relies on dubious cherry-picked data. To get their message, just glance at Breitbart.com, the home of hard-right hackery: "Violent Crime Surges 25 Percent in 2021 With Democrats in Washington." You can find dozens of similar headlines across right-wing platforms, which invariably announce "skyrocketing crime rates in Dem-run cities." (Stay tuned for grainy video of a disturbing attack.)

Then there's former President Donald Trump himself, the loudest presidential loser in history, blathering fantastical statistics that are meant to show how dangerous life is in America now that he's gone.

Keep reading... Show less

GOP Senate Campaign Chief Blasts 17 Colleagues Who Support Infrastructure Deal

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) scolded 17 of his Republican colleagues on Thursday for helping Democrats pass "reckless spending." But as chair of the party's campaign arm, it's his job to get them re-elected.

Keep reading... Show less
x

Close