Category Archive 'Deficit'
19 Apr 2011
J.T. Young, at Investors’ Business Daily, points out some crucial home truths about the political future of the United States: liberals are too unrealistic to be trusted with governing authority and there are simply not enough of them to win except in a situation like 2008 when all the cards fall in their favor.
Can liberals govern America? That is the real question the federal budget deficit poses them. Budget deficits â€” at every level of government, and particularly in Washington â€” are a recognized threat. For this president, to whom liberals give overwhelming support, they are no less a threat.
As liberals refuse to let the deficit be addressed seriously through spending cuts, they need to consider the central fact of their existence. According to exit polling of the 2010 election (Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International) they constituted just 20% of the electorate. A bad year for liberals undoubtedly, but even in their halcyon days of 2008, they were just 22%. Over their highs and lows of the past four national elections, liberals have averaged just one-fifth (20.8%) of the electorate.
During the same time, conservatives have averaged 35.5% of the electorate.
America’s political lesson for liberals is twofold. Both liberals and conservatives need moderates to win national elections.
But liberals need moderates a lot more … because they need a lot more of them. Liberals need two-thirds of the moderate vote to reach a majority. Conservatives need only one-third.
If liberals can see neither the economics nor the politics of Obama’s Wednesday decision, they need only see themselves for what they are: the smallest of America’s three ideological groups by a wide margin. They can win elections only as a minority partner. They can expect governing to be no different. If that is unacceptable, they must be comfortable as a perpetual nongoverning minority.
The president’s speech on Wednesday recognizes this reality. It is unclear if America’s liberals do.
22 Mar 2011
I get dragged, these days, into aimless arguments with liberals on Facebook. Jim Scheltens taunted overnight: “[T]he federal deficit didnâ€™t matter until we had a black democrat president.”
I think the Bush deficit mattered, but deficits are normal in times of war, and the 9/11 attacks inevitably resulted in military operations. Obama’s deficits are, by contrast, deficits of choice and are of a completely different order of magnitude.
Victor Davis Hanson observes:
Obama has scheduled $5 trillion in new debt since he took office, in part as Keynesian stimulus to snap us out of a slowdown that seemed instead to get worse. The massive debt was incurred in service to new redistributive entitlements that, we are told, will level the playing field. And to implement a new government absorption of health care, the administration has so far granted over 1,000 exemptions from its own landmark legislation. Many of the labor unions that were the most vocal supporters of the presidentâ€™s agenda are the most eager to be freed from the consequences of his health care mandates. …
Debt is now the father of us all. In some sense, every cruise missile fired, every Social Security check cashed, ever NPR show aired is done so in part with borrowed money. In response, the president saw the impending doom of insolvency, appointed a bipartisan commission to draft a solution, and then ignored his own appointeesâ€™ recommendations. So far the excuse is largely that George Bush ran up debt as well, although last month Obamaâ€™s red-ink exceeded the entire 2007 budget deficit under Bush â€” 30 days of Obama trumping 365 of Bush.
The Obama deficit is different in character. Unlike other past presidents’ deficits, the debt resulting from currently projected federal spending has no possibility of being repaid at practicable or conceivable tax levels, the federal government as it exists is unsustainable, and that unhappy situation directly and immediately threatens America’s economic future, military capabilities, and role and position in the world.
When previous presidents overspent, we knew we could write the check today and cover it tomorrow. This time there is a real likelihood that the check will bounce, i.e. that the entitlement obligations the government has assumed are unaffordable and can in no circumstances be met. The police will not arrive to take all of us to jail, but before long, the existing systems of federal spending and entitlements will not undergo some process of orderly reform, but will collapse in a rout. The US dollar may no longer be the world reserve currency, the US may very well not be the world’s principal financial center or leading military power, and American presidents may be obliged to run US foreign policy past the foreign ministries of our leading creditors.
28 Feb 2011
And Henry Blodget has produced a graphic illustration to illustrate his contention.
[H]ere’s the one chart you need to see to understand why the US is screwed.
This is the “income statement” of the United States in 2010. “Revenue” is on the left. “Expenses” are on the right.
Note a few things…
First, “Revenue” is tiny relative to “Expenses.”
Second, most of the expense is entitlement programs, not defense, education, or any of the other line items that most budget crusaders normally howl about.
Third, as horrifying as these charts are, they don’t even show the trends of these two pies: The “expense” pie is growing like gangbusters, driven by the explosive growth of the entitlement programs that no one in government even has the balls to talk about. “Revenue” is barely growing at all.
I’d put it another way.
I’d say that Liberalism and the post-New Deal American Welfare State is screwed.
The accident of the chickens finally coming home to roost from decades-old federal housing policies during the waning weeks of an increasingly unpopular Republican Administration delivered both elected branches of government into the hands of left-wing democrats eager to expand the empire of statism.
Those kinds of democrats do not understand economics and are not prudent and responsible managers. Their response to the economic crisis was to apply traditional liberal pump-priming excuses to enact a massive Stimulus package and to nationalize some automakers and bail out more banks, while driving full steam ahead on creating another new cyclopean entitlement system.
The result is a kind of show-and-tell demonstration, in front of God and everybody, making it perfectly clear to everyone whose intellect is not paralyzed by ideology that what conservatives had been saying all along is perfectly true. Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, and was always destined to fail one fine day when demographics failed to cooperate. That there are limits to the percentage of the national economy which can be taxed and redistributed without drastic costs in growth and prosperity. That there are limits to how much government you can have, how much government can do, how many departments and programs you can create, and how many bureaucrats you can hire.
The music has stopped. The era of the expansion of socialism, regulation, and federal authority is over. We have run out of money. National bankruptcy is within sight. The end of government’s capacity to pay for the entitlement system existing prior to Obamacare is at hand. Obamacare is a dream and a delusion which we could never afford. Our domestic experiment in social welfarism has failed.
The American people are gradually awakening from a troubled sleep. A political avalanche is building which is going to sweep Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, liberalism and the America left, and the whole New Deal/Great Society philosophy from the national political landscape onto the rubbish heap of history.
02 Dec 2010
Mortimer B. Zuckerman identifies the real significance of the enormously expanded Obama-era deficit. It is not only capable of putting a dent in Americans’ consuming lifestyles. It promises to change permanently American capabilities and America’s role in the world. Some of us believe the permanent transformation of the United States into another militarily impotent welfare state would fulfill both the domestic and foreign policy goals of the radical left’s agenda.
The majority of Western governments are running fiscal deficits of 10 percent or more relative to GDP, but it is increasingly clear that there will be no quick fixes, that big government and fiscal deficits will not bring us back to the status quo ante. Indeed, the tidal wave of red ink has meant that the leverage-led or debt-led growth model is dead.
Developed countries will be forced to deal with their debt on every level, from the personal to the corporate to the sovereign. Being able to borrow may have made people feel richer, but having to repay the debt is certainly making them feel poorer, particularly since the unfunded liabilities that many governments face from aging populations will have to be paid for by a shrinking band of workers. (Ecoutez, mes amis!)
Demography is destiny. As a result, there is a burgeoning consensus that we are witnessing an inevitable rise of the East and a decline of the West.
The prognosis for America is especially discouraging. We have relied too heavily on surplus savings from abroad on top of running massive current account deficits. Until recent times, we ran deficits of this order only when we were engaged in a titanic war; otherwise we sought to achieve budget balances over a complete business cycle. But now we are running annual deficits of $1.4 trillion, about 10 percent of the total economy. We have compounded the deficits we accumulated over the last decade, so they now reach 61 percent of GDP. Only once before has the ratio of federal debt to GDP come in above 60 percent. That was after World War II. And our federal debt ratio today doesn’t even take into account Social Security and Medicare. Total liabilities and unfunded promises for Medicare and Social Security were about $62 trillion at the end of the last fiscal year, tripling from the year 2000, according to the calculations of former Comptroller General David Walker. Sixty-two trillion dollars is $200,000 per person and $500,000-plus for the average household. As Walker put it, the problem with these trust funds is “you can’t trust them [and] they’re not funded.” Therefore, he asserts, we ought to count them as a liability, which would bring the debt-to-GDP ratio to 91 percent.
The present model of global growth had served excess Western consumption with inexpensive products from the East. The result is plain to see: The West has excessive debt, while China has excessive capacity and inadequate consumption, as well as high levels of savings and our debt.
The deficits we face are a dagger pointing at the heart of the American economy. They threaten that the United States will evolve into another aging welfare state, where fiscal expenditures shift from defense to social welfare, and America’s power in the world will shrink. It has clearly happened in Western Europe, which can no longer defend itself but relies on the United States.
22 Jul 2010
The economy is a disaster, the federal government is operating at a deficit unequaled in the history of the Republic, it is essential to find a way of coping with the National Debt in order to restore economic confidence, and the democrats naturally want to raise taxes.
Scott A. Hodge looks at the options for taxing our way back to a balanced budget.
To erase this year’s estimated $1.5 trillion deficit, we would need either to:
Enact a 25% VAT (Greece is still a mess with a 19% VAT);
Take 130% of the taxable profits earned by U.S. companies this year (that’s what you call net opperating losses);
Raise the top three tax brackets (28%, 33%, and 35%) to 100%. Actually, this would still not raise enough money to erase the deficit – of course, assuming all the wealthy taxpayers didn’t flee to Switzerland.
Take 100% of the business income earned by individual taxpayers in 2008.
In other words, new taxes are not the solution to Washington’s deficit problem. That is, unless we want to wreck our economy for decades to come.
Hat tip to James Pethokoukis via the News Junkie.
06 Mar 2010
The Washington Post describes the depth of the fiscal abyss the current administration is driving into.
President Obama’s proposed budget would add more than $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, congressional budget analysts said Friday. Proposed tax cuts for the middle class account for nearly a third of that shortfall.
The 10-year outlook released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is somewhat gloomier than White House projections, which found that Obama’s budget request would produce deficits that would add about $8.5 trillion to the national debt by 2020.
The CBO and the White House are in relative agreement about the short-term budget picture, with both predicting a deficit of about $1.5 trillion this year — a post-World War II record at 10.3 percent of the overall economy — and $1.3 trillion in 2011. But the CBO is considerably less optimistic about future years, predicting that deficits would never fall below 4 percent of the economy under Obama’s policies and would begin to grow rapidly after 2015.
Deficits of that magnitude would force the Treasury to continue borrowing at prodigious rates, sending the national debt soaring to 90 percent of the economy by 2020, the CBO said. Interest payments on the debt would also skyrocket by $800 billion over the same period.
15 Jun 2006
You won’t read it in the Times or the Washington Post, but Investor’s Business Daily reports that Bush may keep his promise and halve the deficit three years early
Aided by surging tax receipts, President Bush may make good on his pledge to cut the deficit in half in 2006 — three years early.
Tax revenues are running $176 billion, or 12.9%, over last year, the Treasury Department said Monday. The Congressional Budget Office said receipts have risen faster over the first eight months of fiscal ’06 than in any other such period over the past 25 years — except for last year’s 15.5% jump.
The 2006 deficit through May was $227 billion, down from $273 billion at this time last year. Spending is up $130 billion, or 7.9%.
The CBO forecast in May that the 2006 deficit could fall as low as $300 billion. Michael Englund, chief economist of Action Economics, has long expected a deficit of about $270 billion this year. Now he thinks there’s a chance the “remarkable strength in receipts” will push the deficit even lower.
With the economy topping $13 trillion this year, a $270 billion deficit would equal less than 2.1% of GDP, easily beating the president’s 2.25% goal. Bush made his vow when the White House had a dour 2004 deficit forecast of 4.5% of GDP, or $521 billion. The actual ’04 deficit came in at $412 billion, or 3.5% of GDP, before falling to $318 billion, or 2.6% of GDP, in 2005.
A CBO analysis last week noted that withheld individual income and payroll taxes are up 7.6% from a year ago, with the gains picking up in recent months.