Wednesday, December 17, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Deficits falling, maybe

By
From page B4 | March 24, 2013 |

The issue: There’s good news for a few years, but beyond 2015 we’ll be back where we started, absent higher taxes, cuts in programs or a huge economic growth spurt

There is nothing better for a bad federal budget than a good economy, and the recovering U.S. economy is beginning to work its magic on the federal deficit, which has been in the $1 trillion-plus range the last four years.

The Associated Press says, “For once, the government’s financial shape is actually improving and will get better still over the next few years as the U.S. economy continues to pull itself slowly out of the worst recession since the 1930s.”

THAT “FOR ONCE” is a little unfair because from 1993 to 1997 the federal deficit, the excess of spending over revenues, fell by more than $230 billion to about $21 billion — itself the lowest in more than 20 years — before going into the black for the first time in nearly 30 years.

That happy state of affairs lasted four years, until 2002, and the first round of the George W. Bush tax cuts. The federal budget numbers look so impressive, so orderly, so definitive in the annual White House budget office but it’s an open secret in Washington that these numbers are just informed guesses often based on improbable assumptions. For example, the number crunchers are required to assume that Congress actually will do what it says it will.

The Bush White House mistakenly believed it was dealing with a 10-year surplus of more than $5 trillion. Then came a second round of tax cuts. The Bush mantra was “we’re going to put some extra money in your pocket,” neglecting to mention that the money would have to be borrowed.

Then we fought a costly and, as it turned out, unnecessary war in Iraq and are still fighting a second one in Afghanistan, neither of them paid for. One wonders what the response would have been if the government had asked the voters: “We feel for the good of the country we have to invade Iraq. How much more in taxes are you willing to pay to have us do that?”

And finally there was the prescription drug benefit, whose numbers were greatly fudged to get it through Congress. That wasn’t paid for either.

WE MIGHT HAVE survived that fiscal recklessness if the economy hadn’t tanked in the worst recession since the Great Depression. The loss of tax revenue and the huge amounts of federal money spent to stop the bleeding drove us deep into the hole and now we’re slowly starting to climb out as the economy picks up.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts the deficit will drop to $845 billion this year, and, the CBO says, even if Congress does nothing the deficit will drop to $430 billion by 2015, about what it was in 2008 as the economy began to crater.

But then the fiscal good news runs out. Absent higher taxes, cuts in the rate of increase in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid or a wholly improbably growth spurt in the economy, we will be back where we started. Not a good place to be.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Million Cat Challenge aims to rescue shelter felines

    By Pat Bailey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Everest visit fulfills judge’s lifelong dream

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Supervisors remove Saylor from First 5 Yolo Commission

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

    GPAS and test scores up for UCD’s newest undergrads

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A1

     
    Fatal Capay crash leads to driver’s arrest

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    U.S., Cuba seek to normalize relations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Water officials fret over rain’s effects

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Bob Dunning: Not enough hours in the month

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

     
    Donate to STEAC at Original Steve’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Beer and film tour boosts bike group’s coffers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Yolo Crisis Nursery in full swing

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Creative women share food, friendship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Traditional carols service is Saturday at St. Martin’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Have coffee with the mayor on Friday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Stockings brighten holidays for special kids

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Evening tai chi classes start Jan. 6

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Overeaters get support at meetings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Fibro Friends will update their journals

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Input sought on county’s facility needs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Name Droppers: Law prof earns peace prize for nonfiction

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Community menorah lighting set Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Latest immunization data shows little improvement locally

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5

    School board will vote on repairs, new portables

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A6

     
    Study: National monument could boost local economy

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Parent/toddler art and music program offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Libraries will be closed around the holidays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Cloudy — yet safe — tap water adds to negative health effects

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Round up at the registers for Patwin

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Come Worship with Us

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Forum

    This ought to teach her love

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Many thanks to The Avid Reader

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Language failed me that night, but not now

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A8

     
    Steve Sack cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

    Grand jury function clarified

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Defying Western academic norms

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Boycotters are our future profs

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

    UCD reveals a challenging softball schedule

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Tumey talks about state of Aggie athletics, where they’re headed

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Davis gets Rio Linda as Curry Invitational starts Thursday

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Former Aggie Descalso inks deal with Colorado

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

     
    Westbrook, Durant lead Thunder past Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    Some vegetables just can’t be beet

    By Julie Cross | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6