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July 27 2010

Digging the Hole: Mid-Year Review

Nicole Kurokawa Neily

In case you missed it (don’t feel bad -- the story came out late Friday night to hide the grim news), the government’s mid-year budget review was just released, and the news isn’t good.

From the Heritage Foundation:

…[T]he report pegs this year’s budget deficit at $1.471 trillion, or 10% of the entire U.S. economy. In nominal dollars, it’s the largest deficit in American history; and as a percentage of the economy, it’s the largest deficit since World War II. To pay for that $1.471 trillion hole, our government will borrow 41 cents of every dollar it spends. And the Obama Administration concedes that these large deficits are here to stay. It projects another $1.42 trillion deficit in 2011, which is $150 billion worse than previously predicted. Looking ahead, the President’s budget includes deficits that never fall below $698 billion and leaves our children with $18.5 trillion in debt by 2020. And all this assumes the economy will grow 4% from 2012-2014. The only times the economy performed that well in the past thirty years was from 1997-2000 and from 1983-1985.

These future deficits are driven almost exclusively by rising spending. As Heritage Foundation analyst Brian Riedl noted earlier this year: “Before the recession, federal spending totaled $24,000 per U.S. household. President Obama would hike it to $36,000 per household by 2020 — an inflation-adjusted $12,000-per-household expansion of government.” There is a way out of this deficit nightmare: stop spending. If the federal government managed to return to the per-household spending level of the Reagan administration, the budget would be balanced by 2012 without any tax hikes. Too ambitious? Just returning to the per-household spending levels that existed before the current recession would balance the budget by 2019.

Dark stuff, indeed.

Unfortunately, rumblings from the White House indicate that spending cuts aren’t on the table. Instead, the American people are facing tax hikes in 2011, on top of rising costs from the expansion of programs such as the recently enacted health care reform.

Hopefully Congress will wise up and listen to the advice of politicians like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) – because spending cuts are the only way to truly get the economy back on track. As Ryan says, “the worst thing for deficit reduction is a slow economy.” Rather than squeezing taxpayers and businesses further, it’s time to grow the tax base and share the burden.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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