Feature

Deflating the deficit debate

Believe it or not, “deficit reduction is going better than you’d think.”

Ezra KleinThe Washington Post

Believe it or not, “deficit reduction is going better than you’d think,” said Ezra Klein. Despite all the rhetoric in Washington about out-of-control government spending, Congress has actually reduced spending by almost $3.6 trillion since 2011. Most encouraging is that the growth of health-care costs has also slowed “big time.” It’s still not clear whether that’s just because of the recession, or whether we’re seeing the effect of “cost controls that will persist long after the economy returns to health.” Either way, what people should really worry about right now is the job market, “which is in worse shape than predicted a few years ago” thanks to a deeper-than-expected recession, a slower-than-predicted recovery, and a “feckless” political response. Yet Washington prefers talking about deficits, perhaps because they “offer a convenient excuse” to push unpopular policies like privatizing Medicare. In fact, the constant sniping about the deficit looks more and more artificial. It’s hard to believe any politician who says he considers the deficit to be the greatest threat to the country if “he doesn’t think it’s important enough to merit raising another dollar in taxes.” 

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