Posts Tagged ‘Deficit’

A “Normal” Budget Isn’t Really Normal

Treasury closed the financial books on fiscal 2014 last week. As my colleague Howard Gleckman noted, the top line figures all came in close to their 40-year averages. The $483 billion deficit was about 2.8 percent of gross domestic product, for example, slightly below the 3.2 percent average of the past four decades. Tax revenues […]

How “Dead Men” Fiscal Policy Is Paralyzing Government

In his new book, Dead Men Ruling, my Tax Policy Center colleague Gene Steuerle delivers a powerful indictment of the current epidemic of irresponsible fiscal policy. But Gene isn’t writing about deficits and today’s economy.  His focus is on the long-term political, social, and economic consequences of mindless budgeting that increasingly functions on policy autopilot. Gene’s […]

The Illogic of the McConnell Debt Limit Rule

In the aftermath of the recent government shutdown and the painful negotiations that brought the country perilously close to defaulting on government debt, policy experts are searching for a way to avoid a replay of this crisis. After all, the recent congressional agreement only delays the next potential shutdown till January 15 and lifts the […]

Congress Shouldn’t Forget About Tax Entitlements In Its Search for Deficit Reduction

Yesterday, Washington Post columnist Bob Samuelson urged lawmakers to “just eliminate…the whole notion of entitlements.”  His provocative argument: The very word “entitlement” makes people believe these programs are somehow untouchable. They are, for instance, effectively exempt from the sequester’s cuts even though they represent two-thirds of all government spending. Bob is on to something but he […]

One Modest Path to a No-Drama Budget Deal

The conventional wisdom is that next January, Congress and President Obama will be in exactly the same place they’ve been for most of the past three weeks—deep in government shutdown mode. The argument: The recent fiscal battles that ended with last night’s short-term deal to reopen the government and reauthorize Treasury borrowing  buys time but […]

The Un-Default: Congress Has Become A Seinfeld Episode

Like Seinfeld, the classic 1990s TV comedy, Congress is increasingly about…nothing. If the agreement reached by Senate leaders this afternoon sticks (and given recent history, even that is uncertain) Congress has just shuttered much of the federal government for more than two weeks and risked a market-shattering federal default in order to convene a meeting […]

It’s Groundhog Day Over the Debt Ceiling

If you recently heard the news that Congress is debating the merits of raising the debt ceiling, don’t think you have time-traveled back to 2011 or to 2012. In the absence of Congressional action, and barring some extraordinary measures, the debt ceiling is set to be breached sometime in the next several weeks, and the […]

Are Low Interest Rates Masking Future Deficits?

Thanks to artificially low interest rates, the United States has been able to finance deficits exceeding $1 trillion every year from 2009 through 2012 at very low cost. Throughout the period, the ratio of interest to the GDP has remained almost stable and is not expected to start rising until 2015. Some argue that this […]

Uncle Sam’s Trillion-Dollar Portfolio Partly Offsets the Public Debt

When policy folks talk about America’s federal borrowing, their go-to measures are the public debt, currently $12 trillion, and its ratio to gross domestic product, which is approaching 75 percent. Those figures represent the debt that Treasury has sold into public capital markets, pays interest on, and will one day roll over or repay. These […]

Uncle Sam’s Growing Investment Portfolio

The federal government has been borrowing rapidly to finance recent budget deficits. But that’s not the only reason it’s gone deeper into debt. Uncle Sam also borrows to issue loans, build up cash, and make other financial investments. Those financial activities have accounted for an important part of government borrowing in recent years. Since October […]