The Debt Outrage Will Continue

This is the most unimportant graph of the day:

CBO Debt Projection

It comes from the Congressional Budget Office, but I got the graph from Paul Krugman. What it shows is that we have stabilized our debt. This should make all deficit scolds very happy.

Ha ha ha! What a kidder I am! It won’t matter in the least. You see, all the talk of debt by these people is nothing more than a pretense for cutting spending on the poor.

For the umpteenth time: Mitt Romney stated out by cutting marginal income tax rates. Simpson-Bowles started out by cutting marginal income tax rates. The House started out by cutting marginal income tax rates. Imagine if the Progressive Caucus’ budget started by doubling the support level of Social Security? No one would take it seriously. But somehow, when conservatives start their budget cutting by giving huge amounts of cash to the rich, the Very Serious People think they are being very serious indeed.

The truth of the matter is that this graph from the CBO probably makes the future debt look worse than it should. The CBO is usually conservative in their estimates. If we got some actual economic growth (unlikely as long as Republicans control the House), we might see that number come way down. It will be even bigger if medical cost inflation continues to go down. And note: we have already accomplished what Paul Ryan claimed his newest budget would do in 10 years: balanced the budget.[1]

But none of this matters. The deficit scolds will continue to talk about our “out of control” spending and “unsustainable” budget. The Republicans will continue to complain that Obama is turning us into a combination of Greece and the Soviet Union. Because all the deficit hysteria was never about the budget; it was about an ideological commitment to destroy the social safety net. Until the CBO comes out with a report that shows we aren’t helping the poor at all and the rich are not being taxed a penny, the debt outrage will continue.

[1] This is not quite true. When the Republicans look at the budget, they do it as though they had never heard of macroeconomics. The reasonable definition of a balanced budget is to have the deficit not add to the debt as a percent of GDP (or even better, potential GDP). Ryan’s budget supposedly balances in absolute terms. Even the most conservative economists think that’s crazy.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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