This post first appeared on May 10, 2011. And since the information provided has resonated with so many folks, I reprint it below. Thanks to all who made it so popular!
Dr. Evil Running Congress?
The talk flowing from Washington about the national debt sounds too much like the goofy comedy scenes of Dr. Evil demanding "one billion gajillion fifillion shapaduluullmeleleshaprenodlash mamillion dollars" from the nations of the world to halt a nefarious destruction of the planet.
House Speaker John Boehner and his GOP brethren (like my congressman, Rep. Phil Roe) are whipping up a scarefest about the status of the national debt - while avoiding the very obvious solution right before them. "Cut 2 trillion dollars!" cries Boehner.
Cutting spending by trillions of dollars is possible, nearly 9 trillion came from Bush era policies which were never paid for and should be eliminated -- As Peter Orszag, director the Office of Management and Budget said quite plainly:
"You mentioned that $9 trillion projected deficit over the next decade. That basically reflects three things.
The first is the failure to pay for two policies in particular, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Those were deficit financed. Over the next decade they account for $5 trillion.
Second, the economic downturn, because it triggers the so-called automatic stabilizers, which raise unemployment benefits, they raise food stamps, they cause -- revenue tends to decline during an economic downturn, all of which is beneficial because it helps to mitigate that GDP deficit that I was talking about. But it also over the next decade adds $3.5 trillion to the deficit.
And then finally, the Recovery Act accounts for less than 10 percent of that total. So basically, the $9 trillion projected deficit can be entirely accounted for by the failure to pay for policies in the past, the economic downturn, and the steps we’ve had to take to combat that downturn, which is not to say action isn’t necessary, it absolutely is. But it’s also important to realize we didn’t get here by accident."
It's clear the House Republicans don't want to cut spending or reduce the debt - they want to scare voters today in hopes of winning elections tomorrow, no matter what the cost might be.