Burning_money

Republican Congress Has Set Deficit to “Soar,” Is It Too Late to Stop It?

The government is flying high again, according to the Washington Times.

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the deficit this year will exceed last year’s deficit by almost a full quarter. The CBO predicts the federal government’s spending will be $544 billion more than government revenue for the 2016 fiscal year. That’s a 24-percent increase.

This came about because the Republicans refused to continue the sequestration. They also refused to “shut down the government.” What that really means is that they gave Obama all the spending he wanted, along with plenty of their own, to prevent him from vetoing the budget. Somehow, the government “shutdown” that resulted from the President’s veto would be solely the responsibility of Republicans, not only in the eyes of the media and the Democrats, but according to the rhetoric of GOP leadership. (I’ve never understood how that works.) As a result, Obama got his wish list including the full funding of Planned Parenthood. They also kept some taxes low, which would have been good if they had reduced spending as well.

So now the deficit is climbing to over a half-trillion dollars.

Of course, if the CBO is just informing Congress of the financial consequences of their recently-passed budget, that means Congress didn’t care about those consequences. They didn’t ask for a CBO analysis before they voted for the budget—just like they didn’t read it before voting in favor of it.

One telling detail in the story was that the projected deficit was “also deeper than what the analysts had projected in August, when they had assured Congress deficits would continue to fall slightly.” Once again we have politicians and government bureaucrats making optimistic predictions. When the truth is discovered, after the law is passed, it is too late.

This should give us a good idea of how much we can trust the promises of Presidential candidates—like Bernie Sanders saying that we can afford universal healthcare.

By the way, the emphasis on reducing the deficit is a way that politicians and the media give us false optimism about the country’s financial situation. When the government runs a smaller deficit than the year before, they will trumpet the news as if it is an absolute good.

Imagine a friend who spent $10,000 more than his income by using credit cards. When you ask him what he is going to do about it, he tells you he is going to pay the interest on the $10,000 and only borrow $5,000 next year. You would tell your friend he isn’t addressing the problem of the debt but making it worse. He needs to figure out a way to live debt-free and either pay what he owes, or else file for bankruptcy.

Likewise, lowering the deficit is merely less damaging than a higher deficit. The national debt continues to climb, along with the interest rates. Unless a lower deficit is part of a plan to eventually get to no deficit and then a surplus, it doesn’t mean much.

Our ruling class treats a reduced deficit as if it was a virtuous deed that earned politicians the right to increase spending later.

We are doomed if this continues.

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Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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