Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston





Thursday, August 13, 2009


Matthew Yglesias has an interesting article about the percentages and where they came from:

“The first category — the business cycle — accounts for 37 percent of the $2 trillion swing.”

— Second, Bush-era legislation “like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, [that] not only continue to cost the government but have also increased interest payments on the national debt.”

— Third, “Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 [...] 20 percent of the swing.”

— Fourth, “About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February.”

— Fifth, “only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas.”

"In other words, the very high deficits are not Obama’s fault according to any normal way of assessing political blame.

That said, large deficits aren’t a moral failing that we need to hold someone accountable for. Rather, they’re a potential future practical problem that will have to be solved. Doing that will probably require a mixture of higher taxes, somewhat more hard-core health care reform that is likely to pass in 2009, and reductions in defense and possibly Social Security outlays.

I don’t really find it especially surprising or alarming that nobody wants to vote for any of those things in 2009. After all, nobody who has to stand for election really wants to do any of that stuff. And the deficit isn’t a problem in 2009 and almost certainly won’t be in 2010. The main issue is whether Congress will be prepared to take tough measures when and if doing so actually proves necessary.

Meanwhile, the health reforms being debated in congress will get us some of the way to where we need to be, and also hopefully lay the groundwork for further measures if the best hopes about what’s currently on the table don’t wind up materializing.

The simple fact of the matter, after all, is that nobody really knows what the impact of something like comparative effectiveness research will be. It could save a lot of money, or it might not—we might just get healthier while spending a similar amount of money. But if we get it in place sooner rather than later, we’ll know and be in a position to act. "


TAO said...

Bring up Bush and boom, the internet goes quiet....

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Well that certainly sheds light on a dark topic. But of course, I do expect some of our rightwing friends to spin this ... like the tall tale about the big fish that got away ... or that bit about how an evil witch turned an investment banker into a talking frog but that banker is now worth more money as a talking frog ... or that rags to riches story about how I made a small fortune on Wall Street (having started out with a much larger fortune). How funny, those nutters are.

dmarks said...

The whole thing is spin. A spinning wheel. If the economy were going great guns now (and had been before Jan 2009), the same guys would call the entire situation Obama's.

TRUTH 101 said...

I know the right hates it and Lord knows I strive to be magnanimous. But gosh dangitt. I never get tired of being reminded of Bush's failed presidency.

dmarks said...

It has been Obama's "failed presidency" (using your standard by which a Presidency is "failed" if you happen to dislike the President).

Month by month, the grey wedge (which by now should really take up half the pie) gets bigger. There was none this past January, and come next January, the pie will be all grey.

At this time, even, most of the deficit is a direct choice of Obama, who has chosen to sign very extravagent overspending bills into law.

Arthurstone said...

What's with Obama anyway?

Eight months in and all our problems aren't solved.


That said I would prefer the President not send additional troops to Afghanistan or increase our participation in 'Plan Colombia'.

How's about we offer free airfare to every woman and child in Afghanistan instead and leave the menfolk to kill one another off?

I'm mostly fine with Obama's efforts on the economy. Now if only Congress had the cojones to do the right thing and raise taxes.

dmarks said...

Congress getting greedier like that isn't the "right thing".

But I suppose that there might be a good outcome of such and unnecessary and damaging action as a tax hike this year, as it would result in a lot of robbed voters voting congressmen and women out of office.

TRUTH 101 said...

Funny how the right complains of tax hikes and big deficits. I'm sorry to keep flogging this dead horse, but the right has zero credibility on matters of finance. We will hear the glorious speeches about how we don't want to burden the next generation with our spend and borrow policie's huge deficits. But God forbid we ask this generation to pay for our largesse.

The simple fact is that while a few on the right may have made comments about growing deficits during the Bush years, they all lined up at the troft to feast on the easy money.

But now that they're no longer in power they can be fiscal conservatives again.

dmarks said...

"The simple fact is that while a few on the right may have made comments about growing deficits during the Bush years, they all lined up at the troft to feast on the easy money."

And it is a simple fact is that while a few on the left may have made comments about growing debt during the Clinton years ($1.6 trillion total, with the debt going up all of Clinton's 8 years), they all lined up at the troft to feast on the easy money.

And the same with a few on the right during the first Bush years.

And the same with a few on the right during the soaring debt of the Reagan years.

And the same now with a few on the left complaining as the debt soars under Obama.

Typically, one side generally thinks that fiscal irresponsibility and soaring debt are fine-and-dandy if the President from their side is doing it.

(And some now even dare to make silly charts that intentionally mislead and try to place the blame for the deficit on everyone except for the guy in charge of the budget; the guy who is making the deficits).