Eleven things about the projected ten-year deficit

1. Nine trillion dollars is a buttload of money. That is a nine followed by twelve zeros: $9,000,000,000,000.

2. According to American Scientist, large numbers like this are becoming more common in our lives.

3. Republicans suggest that this large deficit is a product of Pres. Obama’s policies.

4. Actually, the baseline deficit (that is, the deficit assuming the current forecast of economic conditions and policy according to current law) is about $7 trillion. If we had a Pres. McCain right now, that would still be the baseline deficit.

5. The additional $2 trillion deficit is largely a result of extending some of the Bush tax cuts that would otherwise expire and providing relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax. I think we can safely assume that the GOP would not argue against these policies.

6. Maintaining certain Medicare payments to doctors also adds to the deficit. Considering how Michael Steele is browbeating seniors about the threat to Medicare the GOP is committed to protecting Medicare , I assume that the GOP would oppose not maintaining these payments.

7. This nifty graphic explains the makeup of the deficit.

8. This situation makes it more important than ever that health care reform be revenue neutral. Peter Orszag claims that health care reform is needed to help close the deficit, but I don’t quite buy that.

9. This situation will also make it difficult for the president to make good on his pledge  not to raise taxes on the middle class.

10. Former U.S. comptroller, David Walker suggests that Obama should display the same fiscal discipline exercised by Clinton and G.H.W. Bush and support a deficit-reducing tax increase. Obama and congressional Democrats should also reinstate PAYGO rules.

11. Walker admits that both Bush and Clinton paid a political price for their tax hikes. I would say that while Clinton paid a political price, Bush paid the political price. It remains to be seen what political price Obama would pay for a middle-class tax hike.



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