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September 19, 2005

Budget Tragedies, Budget Statistics

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

As Democrats know and Republicans try to forget, this Administration has turned the record budget surpluses of the late 1990s into unprecedented budget deficits. We've gone from a surplus of $236 billion in 2000 to a $412 billion deficit in 2004. Among the causes are tax cuts, the Iraq War, corporate welfare, and general mismanagement.

The Bush Administration hasn't paid any serious political price for its fiscal nihilism. When there's a war on, nobody can be brought to care about bloodless matters like deficits. Furthermore, there's a level at which you pay no additional political price for pushing the deficits higher. You'll have the fiscal conservatives (all five of them, perhaps!) against you with the same intensity whether you run deficits of $112 billion or $412 billion. So once you've stuck yourself with deficits, there's no reason not to let them run out of control.

September 19, 2005 in Bush Administration | Permalink

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Comments

So how is any of this news?
Bush spends money. On the other hand, there was, and still is, no indication that Gore would have spent any less. The only difference is that Bush indicated that he wouldn't and Gore let everyone know upfront he would spend everything.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Sep 19, 2005 8:35:10 AM

What's more, if you're likely to lose the next election (presidential and/or congressional) as the Republicans surely are, then the higher the deficit the more unpopular decisions the Democrats have to make and the sooner you get back into power.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Sep 19, 2005 8:46:35 AM

Have to disagree on this one. The deficit isn't a big political
problem *yet*; the incompetence of FEMA appointees wasn't a
political problem a month ago. Things change! As soon as the
Asian central banks decide they'd rather hold Euro-assets rather
than US Treasuries, the deficit becomes a *huge* problem.

Posted by: Richard Cownie | Sep 19, 2005 9:23:39 AM

Richard,

Which European nations are in a better position than the U.S. when you compare Debt to GDP? France and Germany certainly are not. Additionally, Economic growth is anemic in most of Europe, which makes investing in those nations economies very unattractive.

I certianly wish there was less spending, but how the spending is financed, whether by debt or taxes seems pretty irrelevant to me. There are upsides and downsides in both. Presuming that what we are getting for the money is worth it (doubtful), why shouldn't we finance and pay it off over time rather than extract the money ahead of time?

Posted by: Dave Justus | Sep 19, 2005 9:54:54 AM

Dave, if you expect high inflation in the near term, then going into debt would make a lot more sense. Pay back that debt with cheaper dollars.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Sep 19, 2005 10:36:52 AM

"Bush spends money. On the other hand, there was, and still is, no indication that Gore would have spent any less."

Ah, Fred, Gore was part of the Administration that actually balanced the budget. That IS an indication. Also, look at this Cato chart: Federal Outlays as a percent of GDP. Non-defense spending goes down under Clinton, rockets up under Bush. That is another indication. And you apparently weren't paying attention during the 2000 campaign if you think Gore said he would bust the budget.

Posted by: SteveH | Sep 19, 2005 10:37:15 AM

Oh, please don't misunderstand me. I cannot and do not defend Bush's non military spending.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Sep 19, 2005 10:54:15 AM

That's fine, Fred, but there's still no justification for your claim that Gore wouldn't have spent any less, and SteveH ably supplied justification for claiming the opposite.

Posted by: Haggai | Sep 19, 2005 11:37:29 AM

Um, Fred, Gore very likely would have spent far less, and regardless of how much he spent, the government wouldn't have slashed it's own revenue, so the deficits would be smaller, if they existed at all.

Posted by: Mr Furious | Sep 19, 2005 11:44:35 AM

At the very least a divided government would have spent less.

Posted by: Tony Vila | Sep 19, 2005 2:08:40 PM

Would you rather have 500 billion debt financed, that never seems to be paid back, instead grows. Or would you rather have 500 billion debt financed, that is paid back by freezing levels of spending and an insignifiant (in terms of hurt to the economy) tax hike over a shorter period. My financial advisor tells me I spend less using option b.

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Posted by: Trucks b | Jun 23, 2007 8:54:16 PM

giornata mondiale dei diritti umani (il 10 dicembre): sarebbe stato giusto processarlo?

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Posted by: port | Sep 24, 2007 4:16:46 PM

I think you both have it wrong...

90% of the "lowered taxation revenue" was from tax breaks and other cuts on the poor. Capital gains revenues doubled, and the tax cuts on the rich only caused about a < 1% drop in revenue after giving the economy a year to kick in the "supply-side" economics, expanding the tax base.

The 3 clear reasons why we don't have a balanced budget are out of control federal spending (new departments and programs), welfarism (including the increased medicare coverage and struggle to find already spent social security funds), and warfare (2 wars totalling 2.4 trillion dollars, in addition to all the "foreign aid" and MI complex expenditures).

There is no means for any government promoting any of those three entities to be able to afford itself. We're basically hoping that the future tax increases to pay off the debt won't shrink the tax base...don't count on it.

Posted by: Bobby | Oct 25, 2007 3:43:15 PM

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