Source: WonkBlog

Category: Politics, Taxes and Policy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

13 Responses to “60 Years of Budget Deficits in One Chart”

  1. ByteMe says:

    A “five year low” really is not really high praise.

  2. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    The chart colors surplus areas in deficit grey.

  3. RW says:

    Since that chart shows a ‘surplus’ during the Clinton presidency I assume it is the so-called ‘unified budget’ (federal ops plus trust accounts) that is being graphed in which case comparing it to Obama’s budget proposal makes little sense; i.e., the discretionary budget is smaller than the mandatory and a great deal of it is effectively “mandatory” anyway — e.g., defense budget, long-term contracts, etc. — so any proposal is only going to effect the margins no matter who makes it.

    Not that the margins don’t matter: To echo a comment in another thread, when historians look back on this era and see how elites masturbated over deficits while failing to leverage improved infrastructure and jobs on incredibly favorable interest rate terms they are probably going to initiate a search for brain parasites or some plausible cause of widespread cognitive debility because absolutely no one will believe that leadership could behave so irresponsibly and to the detriment of the country much less proclaim it was responsible to do so.

  4. BennyProfane says:

    “Deficits don’t matter.”

  5. constantnormal says:

    Quite a change from the gimmicked-up charts showing exponentially expanding federal spending … it makes a difference when you bring the expanding US economy into the picture.

  6. constantnormal says:

    It seems clear that if erasing the deficit is a priority, then paying people more ought to be high on the list of actionable items — moving the minimum wage up to $10 would not in itself do anything, as wage earners at that level should be paying no federal taxes (their FICA hit is quite sufficient to bring a substantial amount of pain to people attempting to live at the minimum wage level), but hopefully it might provoke a small rise in prices generally, which would feed back into people who make more (and have a lot more to say about the level of pay they will accept than minimum wager earners do), and thus prompt them to demand higher wages, resulting in more tax revenue and a balanced budget. Yes, it’s a rickety, convoluted argument, so sue me.

    Better than inflating the money supply, which seems to be pretty mooshy when it comes to producing the desired result, probably due to monetary policy being achieved by feeding dollars to banksters, and relying on the banksters to fertilize the rest of us (the imagery is compelling, no?).

    But I do not expect to see a higher minimum wage in an off-year for elections, 2016 stands a better shot at achieving that result, assuming it has not been politically buried by then (perhaps Obama’s objective in bringing it up now, with no support to push it forward?). However, a small increase in wage levels is being reported, courtesy of the economy “recovery”, so perhaps the deficit will be erased by 2016, just in time for another Republican administration to recreate it once again.

  7. DeDude says:

    Now if reckless Ronnie and feckless Bush had not cut taxes then revenue would have stayed at about 20% of GDP and national debt would not have been an issue.

  8. wally says:

    Outside of wars and Great recessions, nobody spent like The Gipper.

  9. Marc P says:

    It would be helpful to understand the data presented because on its face the data seem…odd.

    The chart says that Federal government expenditures are less now than in 1990. According to the BEA, actual total expenditures are more than three times what they were in 1990. Is this chart adjusted for inflation? What is the inflation adjuster? BLS says that the CPI since 1990 has seen a 78% increase.

    Something is seriously wrong here. Poor scholarship? Cherry-picked data? I need another cup of coffee?

    Charts need citations to the actual data, not just “OMB.” Compare here: BEA NIPA Table 3.2
    http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=9&step=1#reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&903=87

  10. Marc P says:

    @RW: Great points. The Federal Government passed on the opportunity to refinance on 30-year paper at century-low rates, and failed to seize the opportunity to refinance infrastructure at those rates.

    No investment in efficiency or future comparative advantage means that the US will be inefficient and at a comparative disadvantage. It would be like, let’s grab a crazy example, if Microsoft spent a decade getting bloated and failing to do much actual computer coding.

  11. pekoe says:

    Be interesting to plot inflation on top. Looks like no clear relationship.

  12. wally says:

    Marc P: it is percent of GDP, so the change in GDP is the adjustment you are asking about.

  13. jbegan says:

    Looks like if those Bush “temporary tax cuts” had been left to expire, even with the ongoing ridiculous expenses of Iraq and Afghanistan, we’d be in the black, Conversely, if the ‘trickle down’ effect promised by keeping those tax cuts had worked, we’d be in the black….Clearly the trickle down didn’t work. Time to realize we need revenue to fix our deficit.