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BBHQ Boomer Essays:

Money 101: Getting the Deficit Under Control

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer’s perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

So, exactly what constitutes “getting the deficit under control”? Is it getting the annual deficit under a trillion dollars? Maybe under 500 billion dollars? And for how long? If we reduce the deficit to a certain level for one year, and then allow it to rise in subsequent years, does it still count? I want a specific number and time frame, so that when we hit it, there will be no doubt; we can all agree. “Yep; we did it. We’ve got the deficit under control! Whew! All is well. Now we can smile and relax. Mission accomplished.”

Balderdash!


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January, 2011:

In his annual State of the Union address, the president will proclaim his intent to "get the deficit under control." That will set the stage for a major topic of discussion in our public discourse. When he became president, Mr. Obama promised to cut the deficit in half during his first term. Well, so far we've been heading in the wrong direction... at a breakneck speed.

Primary sources: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2011/assets/hist.pdf
http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12039/01-26_FY2011Outlook.pdf
http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12039/historicalTables[1].xls

The horizontal zero line near the top -- that's even-steven, a balanced budget. Above the line represents a surplus. Anything below is a deficit.

Take a good, long look at the chart. Back in the 90s, we all agreed that the deficit each year was really, really bad. Well, look at it now. And then look at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections for the next 10 years. (In doing research for this essay, I noted that the CBO projections have nearly always been too optimistic. Actual deficits ended up greater than the projections. What will it look like down the road if the projections this time are too optimistic?)

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