You are viewing the NationofChange archives. For the latest news and actions, visit the new www.NationofChange.org.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 / PROGRESSIVE JOURNALISM FOR POSITIVE ACTION
Get Email Updates | Log In | Register

Joe Conason
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Monday 10 February 2014
Fortunately for Republicans and sadly for everyone else, the American public has little comprehension of current fiscal realities.

Deficit of Truth: What Republicans Hope You Don’t Know and Never Find Out

Article image

Listening to Republicans in Congress wailing incessantly about our spendthrift culture raises a nagging question: What would they do, besides talking, if they actually wanted to reduce federal deficits and, eventually, the national debt?

First, they would admit that President Barack Obama's policies, including health care reform, have already reduced deficits sharply, as promised. Second, they would desist from their hostage-taking tactics over the debt ceiling, which have only damaged America's economy and international prestige. And then they would finally admit that basic investment and job creation, rather than cutting food stamps, represent the best way to reduce both deficits and debt — indeed, the only way — through economic growth.

Fortunately for those Republicans and sadly for everyone else, the American public has little comprehension of current fiscal realities. Most people don't even know that the deficit is shrinking rather than growing. According to a poll released on Feb. 4 by the Huffington Post and YouGov, an Internet marketing firm, well over half believe the budget deficit has increased since 2009, while less than 20 percent are aware that it has steadily decreased. (Another 14 percent believe the deficit has remained constant during Obama's presidency.)

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it is Republican voters, misinformed by Fox News, who most fervently and consistently insist on these mistaken ideas, with 85 percent telling pollsters that the deficit has increased. Less than a third of Democrats gave that answer. But nearly 60 percent of independent voters agree with the Republicans on that question, and only 30 percent of Democrats understand the truth — an implicit repudiation, as The Huffington Post noted, of the president's political decision to prioritize deficit reduction rather than job creation.

The facts are simple enough even for a tea party politician to understand. The federal deficit reached its peak — in dollar amount and as a share of the national economy — in 2009, which happens to be the year that Obama took office.

Thanks to the profligate war and tax policies of the Bush administration — which undid the fiscal stabilization achieved under former President Bill Clinton — the Treasury had no financial margin when the Great Recession struck. Federal spending required to avoid another (and possibly far worse) worldwide depression, combined with declining tax revenues that resulted from economic stagnation and tax cuts, led inevitably to that record deficit.

Over the past five years, the red ink has swiftly faded. This year's deficit will be about $514 billion, or about one-third of the $1.5 trillion deficit in 2009; next year's will be even lower, at around $478 billion. As when Clinton was president, those marked fiscal improvements are mainly the product of a slowly recovering economy and growing incomes, along with federal budget cuts.

But not only is the good news about the shrinking deficit widely ignored; it isn't actually good news at all. By avoiding a mostly mythical "budget crisis," federal policy has created a very real jobs crisis that persists, with particular harm to working families. The latest Congressional Budget Office report on the fiscal outlook for the coming decade strongly suggests that the cost of reducing the deficit has been — and will continue to be — substantial losses in potential economic growth and employment.

The ironic consequence, as former White House economist Jared Bernstein recently explained, is that the fiscal outlook for the next 10 years will be somewhat dimmer than expected. In other words, we will return to higher deficits because fiscal austerity — enforced by Republicans and accepted by Obama — is still dragging the economy down.

To restore the kind of growth that lets families prosper and ultimately erases deficits, the Republicans would have to listen to the president — especially when he calls for public investment in infrastructure and an increased minimum wage, first steps toward robust growth and fiscal stability.

If Americans understood the truth about deficits and debt — and how the federal budget affects their jobs and income — the congressional obstruction caucus, also known as the GOP, would have no other choice.

Copyright Creators.com


ABOUT Joe Conason

Joe Conason has written his popular political column for The New York Observer since 1992. He served as the Manhattan Weekly’s executive editor from 1992 to 1997. Since 1998, he has also written a column that is among the most widely read features on Salon.com. Conason is also a senior fellow at The Nation Institute.

Fox Noise shoud be removed

Fox Noise shoud be removed from the air, and Rupert & James Murdoch should be criminally prosecuted for hacking cellphones and computers in the US and Great Britain and for bribing Scotland Yard detectives to ignore their criminal behavior (a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).

We don't need a totally misinformed and/or stupid public in this country.

Comment with your Facebook account



Comment with your Disqus account

Top Stories

comments powered by Disqus

NationofChange works to educate, inform, and fight power with people, corruption with community.

If you would like to stay up to date with the best in independent, filter-free journalism, updates on upcoming events to attend, and more, enter your email below:

7 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Support NationofChange

Our readers often tell us why they’ve decided to step up and become supporters. Here are some of the top reasons people are giving.

1. You’re keeping independent journalism alive
The corporate owned media has proven that it can’t be trusted. In a media landscape wrought with spin and corruption, NationofChange stands in very scarce company.

2. You’re sticking it to the rich, powerful, and corrupt
When you have money in this country you can get away with damn near anything, and they do. NationofChange isn’t afraid to expose these criminals no matter how powerful they are.

3. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible
NationofChange is a 501(c)3 charity. People tend to assume that many other organizations are (most nonprofits are NOT) but it’s that 501(c)3 status is a bit more rare than you think.

Read the rest...