Interest in a big fix for the nation’s budget has faded among Democrats because many no longer believe it is necessary or worth the political perils. The deficit has declined rapidly, and the national debt, now $16.7 trillion, is projected to be stable or even declining as a share of the economy well into the next decade.
. . . .
Although the politics have shifted as the battered GOP struggles to regroup amid deep internal divisions, the nation’s budget problems remain difficult and economically daunting: The country is on a budget trajectory that, while substantially improved from the recent recession, remains unsustainable.
It’s nice that she admits it’s “unsustainable” — but the rest of this is claptrap.
It falls once again to Tom Blumer, who took apart Lauter’s nonsense, to correct Mascaro’s deception:
Lisa Mascaro, with the help of Brian Bennett, David Lauter and Michael A. Memoli, added to that effort late Saturday afternoon. In an item primarily about the politics of the Washington’s next scheduled fiscal standoff in mid-December, she did the usual spin on this year’s budget deficit (writing that it has “declined rapidly,” while conveniently forgetting that this year’s shortfall will be higher than any non-Obama deficit in U.S. history). She also gave undue credence based on poor historical accuracy to Congressional Budget Office projections which claim that “the national debt … is projected to be stable or even declining as a share of the economy well into the next decade.” But she ventured beyond the careful but misleading realm of the previous two statements into flat-out falsehood when she wrote: “The country is on a budget trajectory that, while substantially improved from the recent recession …”
Her Saturday writeup claimed that the national debt is “now $16.7 trillion.” No ma’am. It was actually $17.075 trillion as of Thursday, the latest figure available at the U.S. Treasury, thanks to the post-shutdown unwinding of the Treasury Department’s accounting and money-shifting tricks. These “undo” actions caused the debt to go up by a record $328 billion in a single day.
Substantively, yes, I realize that Mascaro added that our current path “remains unsustainable” at the end of the sentence I quoted above. That doesn’t change the fact that she has given her readers the completely false impression that the U.S. in far less fiscal and economic peril now than it was 4-1/2 ago, when the “recent” (cough, cough) recession ended.
. . . .
Only economic illiterates or blind partisans could pretend that a nation with a debt-to-GDP percentage in the 70s is “substantially improved” in comparison to four years ago, when the percentage was in the low 50s, and where the predicted situation at the end of this decade is now over 15 percentage points worse.
P.S. It’s off topic, but while we’re bashing the Times, let’s not forget this “let’s trade Texas for England” piece sent to me by a few people. It’s self-refuting, which is nice, as it saves me the effort.