Budget Deficit

Poll: Federal Budget Deficit Is a Bigger Problem Than Climate Change, Racism, and Terrorism

The problem, as always, is that voters are likely to say they want Congress to balance the budget, but are less likely to back any specific ideas for doing so.


The year 2020 will almost certainly mark a return to trillion-dollar federal deficits despite a full decade of consistent economic growth.

Most Americans are well aware that's a worrying combination. Unfortunately, that message hasn't reached policymakers in Washington, D.C., who seem happy to add ever larger sums to the bill future taxpayers will have to pay.

A Pew Research Center poll conducted earlier this month found that 53 percent of Americans view the federal budget deficit as a "very big" problem facing the country. That's a larger share of the public than the portion that views terrorism (39 percent), racism (43 percent), or climate change (48 percent) as a major problem.

Indeed, the only topics that score higher in the Pew poll are drug addiction and the affordability of health care and college educations. But while you'll hear lots of discussion about those three issues in next year's presidential campaigns, candidates will likely give considerably less attention to the deficit, even as it soars past the trillion-dollar threshold. That's because reducing the deficit requires a serious and difficult discussion about how the federal government can and should allocate its finite resources. It's much easier to promise student loan forgiveness and/or massive new health care entitlement spending.

Other recent polls show similar levels of concern about the deficit and the $23 trillion national debt. A YouGov/The Economist survey published in July found that 83 percent of Americans said the budget deficit was an important issue. A Gallop poll in March found that 95 percent of Americans worry at least a little about the national debt, including 50 percent who say they worry "a great deal" about it.

This year's Fiscal Confidence Index—which is published by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and tracks Americans' confidence in the country's fiscal stability—found that 76 percent of voters want Congress to work on reducing the deficit, including 72 percent of Democrats and 84 percent of Republicans.

The problem, as always, is that voters are likely to say they want Congress to balance the budget, but are less likely to back any specific ideas for doing so—which at this point would require massive tax increases or huge spending cuts, and probably a combination of both.

Republicans spent the first half of this decade burnishing their credentials as deficit hawks. For a while, that worked—at least until Donald Trump was elected president.

Since 2016, the GOP has abandoned any pretense of caring about the deficit. Trump has concluded that he'll be gone before things get really bad, and the media talking heads who drove much of the "screw you, cut spending" mentality during the Obama years have given up, too.

And let's be clear, it is mostly a spending problem. In the fiscal year that ended on September 30 of this year, federal tax revenues increased by 4 percent but the deficit exploded because spending increased by more than 8 percent. That's simply unsustainable.

Meanwhile, most of the Democrats running for president are promising to make the deficit worse by expanding entitlements and spending vast sums of money. One of the few exceptions to that rule is Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who might be new enough to national politics to actually have some awareness of mathematics or economics.

That's a message Buttigieg is starting to deliver with regularity. He was the only candidate to talk about the deficit at last week's primary debate, and he recently told The Washington Post's editorial board that "we need to recognize that we're approaching a point where you can't ignore spending we need to do on infrastructure and safety net and health and education being crowded by debt service."

Buttigieg has been attacked by the Democratic Party's left wing for merely suggesting that the deficit might be something worth talking about. But if the polls are to be believed, he might be onto something.

It's probably foolish to hope that a discussion about the national debt will break through the culture wars, impeachment battles, and whatever Twitter fights Trump starts in 2020. But voters are signaling that they don't like the current status of rising, seemingly unsolvable budget deficits. Even if voters weren't concerned, the issue is too important to ignore.

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  1. The Propagandists at reason are some of the worse.

    Blaming Trump for veto-proof budgets coming from Congress. While trump should veto the budgets out of principle, it would have no effect.

    Maybe after Trump gets reelected, the GOP takes more seats in the US Senate, and the GOP gains seats in the House after Census 2020 the Republicans can actually get a lower budget passed. It might be possible now so many RINOs are dead, voted out, or retired.

    1. The Propagandists at reason are some of the worse.

      Not even close:
      Everybody else

      1. Everyone who wants to know knows that those MSM outlets are Propagandists.

        reason still tricks amateurs with lies that they are Libertarian.

        1. Poor Alphabet troll.

        2. Charts and graphs don’t lie! Poor LC1789!

      2. To lc1789, everybody is worse than him.

        1. Alphabet troll is worse than everyone.

          1. The propaganda has worked well on LC, lol.

    2. Bullshit. Trump is the face and leader of today’s Republican party. If he tells them to jump there’s enough to say “how high” to stop a veto override.

      1. Hahaha. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is a RINO.

        Susan Collins is a Maine US Senator and RINO.

        McCain was a RINO.

        The real Republicans are trying to get rid of the RINOs and many of them have been voted out, died, or “retired”.

        1. 2 current Senators? That’s your excuse?

          1. I could list a lot more Leo but you clearly dont have a good counter to my argument. So two Senators are good enough.

        2. I’ll stick up for Collins. She’s a Republican, she’s just a liberal leaning Republican and doesn’t really pretend to be otherwise. She explains her positions and whether you agree or disagree with them, they appear to be sincerely held on her part. Plus a liberal Republican is probably the only type of Republican that could get elected in Maine for the Senate. So not really a RINO…just not a conservative.

          Murkowski, on the other hand, is very much in the RINO camp. She holds no real convictions and her positions are mainly based on political convenience. Her ascent to the Senate was largely corrupt and I suspect there will be a big push in the GOP to primary her in her next election. I don’t think Collins will get the same treatment…in fact, I suspect Trump may speak on Collins’ behalf (if she wants that), considering her outspoken defense of Kavanaugh.

          1. UCrawford, the speech Senator Collins gave explaining her vote for Kavenaugh was pretty damned good. She is at real risk for being primaried, though. I don’t always agree with her, but she is at least level-headed.

          2. Publicly airing one’s thoughts as a politicians is a good thing. Ultimately is comes down to how that politician votes or implements policy not what they say.

            I thinking allowing RINOs in the GOP is ridiculous just like allowing LINOs to say they are Libertarians is ridiculous. These types of people just wreck a brand. The GOP has fiscal conservatism as a platform item. Some politicians just want to be wishy-washy and say they are Republicans when they vote for massive federal spending.

            These are also the types of politicians running the current government and have the US debt at $23 TRILLION.

            I might not be able to control who Maine sends to the US Senate but I sure as shit can criticize RINOs for how they vote.

            It helped take down Amash and Flake, so I am all for bashing media Propagandists like reason.

            1. This has to be John’s sock

              1. It has one hell of a spell and grammar checker then. And a much better hostility filter, not that I didn’t enjoy a lot of John’s fights with: Tony, the ‘Plug, any of Mary’s socks, etc…

                The substance is different too. Still one of the more interesting posters here, not that such is a very high bar these days.

                God, this magazine really got run into the ground over the last few years.

        3. The RHINO from Michigan is cute as the dickens though. Don’t think he has a name yet.

        4. Gawd I hate that term “RINO”

          Cute, the first time on Rush, after than, BTDT.

          Besides, if you want a “RINO”, the best example is Charlie Baker, Gov. of MA “(R)”. Only in MA is he an “R”. Anyplace else, he’s a FL (Flaming Leftist).

          Collins is actually trying to be a stateman. Murkovski, I can’t say. McCain…. well, we coulda done worse… oh wait… we did! His name was Obama. Remember him? Purity tests are fine for soap, but in the real world, you gotta take what u can get.

          1. NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN was a statesman. That dude got Hitler to to agree to Czechoslovakian independence after Hitler already conquered Austria in a coup.

            What most people consider statesmen turn out to be support for spinless politicians who cave to tyranny when real principles are on the line.

        5. Trump is a RINO. Hell, he used to be a Democrat.

          1. Your citation fell off.

        6. McCain was a fraud. Read Jeff Gates’s “Guilt By Association.”

      2. “”If he tells them to jump there’s enough to say “how high” to stop a veto override.””

        LOL. Not at all.

        However, Trump did try to stand fast on a veto that turned into a government shutdown. He lost that battle. I suppose that’s a lesson in the futility of vetoing budgets.

        1. But he didn’t veto the spending bill because it was spending too much. He vetoed it because it wasn’t spending enough for his liking on his border wall project.

          1. Your citation fell off.

    3. One thing Trump won’t have to worry about after he’s out of office is a routine colonoscopy. LC1789 is so far up Trumps ass that he’ll be able to report back to Trump’s doctor for a long time.

    4. If they get control of both chambers and keep the White House, you can be sure of one thing: they will not cut spending.

      1. Probably not, but they will probably grow it slower than dems. Or maybe they will.

        1. Check history. Every Republican President has outspent his Democratic predecessor. The biggest spenders have always been a Republican President and Republican controlled Congress. Republicans have been better at controlling the narrative, not slowing spending. The most fiscally responsible modern day President was Clinton, and the Republicans skewered in over defense cuts. Clinton and Newt did manage the best budget, but they did it by robbing what was left in Social Security. Even then Clinton and Gingrich worked together because Ross Perot scared the shit out of both parties by how well he did in the that election. Actually it is to bad Perot did not win, we might have a fiscally responsible government today if he had. (no I did not vote for Perot)

          1. “…but they did it by robbing what was left in Social Security.”

            Wait…what…is this a joke?

            there isn’t now, nor has there ever been, anything “in Social Security.”

            Every penny collected as FICA is spent in the year it is collected. Some on paying benefits current SS beneficiaries with the remainder going to general revenue. That’s always been the case, ever since SS came into existence.

            The “Social Security Trust Fund” is an accounting fiction. Like the “Highway Trust Fund” it is only useful as a way to keep track of certain dedicated taxes.

            1. Liberty lover is another sock troll.

              It was a hilarious comment, so no replies are necessary.

              1. It might be a hilarious comment but see below how many morons believe it.

            2. So your argument is a banks holdings of “general revenue” with Tom, Dick and Harries Names and amounts on each by “accounting fiction” as you claim — cannot be “robbed” by Harry when he spends his own account dry + Toms + Harries BECAUSE they all came from the “general revenue”.

              It floors me people have found the ability to spout their utter evil criminalistic intentions so proudly.. Yes, Clinton stole Tom + Harries account balances to “balance the budget”. And apparently the lefty “excuse” is “general revenue” just like its used in their all-to-popular “general public” or “public interest” cliche phrases of criminalistic theft.

              1. What the fuck are you talking about?

                No one’s individual “Social Security” account has been “robbed”. They never existed.

                Nothing in your comment makes any sense. The only thing that it tells me is that you are utterly ignorant of how the Social Security System was originally set up.

                Social Security was always based on “criminalistic theft”. The idea that Reagan or Clinton used FICA taxes in any way other than the way the framers of the Social Security System intended is absurd.

                Don’t blame me for the fraud that the Social Security System is and always has been. And especially don’t complain about me explaining exactly what kind of fraud it is.

                  1. Jesus W. T. F. Christ, in reply you give me a link to an article that is full of the same bullshit as you shovelled in you original comment.

                    To be sure, most Americans would rather pay down the debt than use Social Security’s surpluses to fund pork barrel projects. But make no mistake, once that money is spent – to buy down debt or fund new programs – it will not be there to cover Social Security’s long-term liabilities.

                    There is, and never has been from the inception of SS, any money “to cover Social Security’s long-term liabilities.” You really don’t seem to understand, The accounting fiction that is the “Social Security Trust Fund” has never had any assets other than Treasury securities that were nothing but paper stored in filing cabinets somewhere in the depths of the Byzantine federal bureaucracy. If it ever comes to paying SS benefits out of the “Social Security Trust Fund” every dollar will either have to come from general revenue or borrowing in the same year. That is the way it has always been since SS was conceived.

                    The only difference between Clinton and his predecessors is that while they used “Social Security’s surpluses” to make their deficits seem smaller, he used them to make his not a deficit but a surplus. It is perfectly true that in none of the years of the Clinton presidency did the federal debt decrease but to claim that he (or Reagan with the Greenspan plan) “stole” money from SS that would otherwise have been available to pay poor pensioners their due is nonsense,

          2. “”Every Republican President has outspent his Democratic predecessor.””

            Congress is responsible for the purse.

            We have someone that likes to blame the 2016 deficit on republicans because TARP passed on Bush’s watch but fails to attribute the spending to the democrats in Congress that passed the bill.

            1. That statement is a Lie anyways. And TARP was passed during the GWB administration but implemented after Obama took office. The real kick in the lefty shorts your looking for is that TARP was nothing but a Gov Stock-Share purchase in the Auto Industry and actually had to be paid back of which the Auto Industry did + some profit.

              AARA was Democrats Recession cure-all that costs 4-Times as much and wasn’t any sort of Stock purchase; just a flat out “Free” money hand-out. The term bail-out fits here; not as well on TARP bill.

              1. AARA? WTF is that? Sounds like another of your fevered dreams.

                And as to “TARP was nothing but a Gov Stock-Share purchase in the Auto Industry and actually had to be paid back of which the Auto Industry did + some profit”. That just sounds like “it’s Ok when my team is socialist, it’s just bad when the other guys are.”

                Just like you seem to think that FDR and his cronies came up with some pristine program to “save” for geezers’ pensions that Clinton stole all the Benjamins from.

                1. “That just sounds like ‘it’s Ok'” — Your putting words in my mouth. What is definitely says though is the AARA was WAY worse then TARP in the end-result.

                  “Just like you seem to think that FDR and his cronies came up with some pristine program to “save” for geezers’ pensions that Clinton stole all the Benjamins from.
                  Well — Isn’t that true? I never thought of it that way; but I like the way your word that.

          3. “Check history. Every Republican President has outspent his Democratic predecessor.”

            That is just a flat out deceitful lie..

            Herbert Hoover Debt added $6B
            FDR Debt added $236B ( Democrat outspent Republican predecessor by almost 40-TIMES as much )

            “Check history. Every Democratic President has outspent his Republican predecessor.”

            Obama $8.6T vs GWB $5.8T
            Jimmy Carter $299B vs Gerald Ford $224B

            The non-deceitful story — How many presidents DIDN’T increase the debt more than their predecessor???

            Warren Harding [R]
            Calvin Coolidge [R]
            Harry Truman [D] ( Only because of FDR’s Spending Rampage)
            George Bush Sr. [R]
            Bill Clinton [D]

            And… It’s projected Donald Trump [R] $4.78T vs Obama $8.59

            1. THIS. Every president spends more than the previous one generally speaking. This is due to the unquenchable thirst of the federal leviathan, and the spineless sellouts in congress. I honestly have little doubt the Trump would sign off on a bill that axed half the federal government if it was put before him, provided it wasn’t the military or a few other things.

            2. Herbert Hoover Debt added $6B
              FDR Debt added $236B ( Democrat outspent Republican predecessor by almost 40-TIMES as much )

              It might be worth keeping in mind that Hoover served one while FDR served <Four. Not to mention that whole WWII thing.

              Obama $8.6T vs GWB $5.8T
              Jimmy Carter $299B vs Gerald Ford $224B

              I’ll give you Obama but it’s important to keep in mind that he was suck with TARP and 3/4 of his term Republicans controled Congress.

              Carter v Ford; easy, Carter served a four year term. Ford was in office for a little over two years.

              1. OTOH, Republicans did do OK in the 90s keeping Clinton in check so that we did have almost balanced budgets. Except for the social conservatives who watered down welfare reform because they were afraid that godless promiscuous sluts might get abortions if they couldn’t get benefits to raise their babies on.

              2. What’s hilarious is, “3/4 of his term Republicans controlled Congress”….. as an excuse or something for outrageous spending.

                Now; go back and check the deficit amounts between when Democrats controlled congress and when Republicans controlled congress under Obama.

                Notice — only AFTER Republicans controlled congress did the deficit get cut in half or less than previous Democratic majorities!!

          4. If you try to reduce spending for certain pentagonal folks (such as George HW) – your opponent usually makes a deal with the US Navy.

            Just like the CIA scene in “Wag the Dog.”

    5. Maybe after Trump gets elected, the GOP takes more seats and I get done jerking off to KellyAnne Conway

      Hahahaha… Jesus Christ! Yeah… someday these GOP bullshitters will get something done.

      1. Pay your mortgage and fuck off, scumbag.

    6. Because Trump is part of the problem, spending hundreds of billions on military hardware we don’t need and promising not to fix Social Security or Medicare.

      1. And ‘YOU’ cannot be responsible for YOUR OWN retirement and medical bills BECAUSE????????????????????????????????????

        I’ll tell you straight up — I do not have the resources to defend EVERYONE in the entire U.S. against all enemies… That is WHY your argument sucks and mine is fine.

    7. Thanks for making me not feel alone in calling out the (T)Reason fraud.

      I started noticing the “controlled opposition” nature of this MIlitary-Industrial Complex rag when they spewed BS over Venuzuela.

      The DoD are all hardcore Zionists and the US is a puppet state of Israel. What do Empires do? Pillage their colonies. That’s what this deficit is about – the US is getting pumped and dumped to do Israel’s bidding – and the deficit is economic sabotage. It’s deliberate and desitned to undermine the US. And the bozo generals can’t realize they’ve started to believe their own propaganda. The Pentagon is the most UnAmerican institution conceivable.

    8. LOL, didn’t Republicans control both houses of Congress his first two years? And if Trump were vetoing the budget anyway, you could make a case that he’s not complicit in this bullshit. But keep making excuses for Cheeto Benito.

  2. Really not that much of a problem.
    Lay out the constitutional requirements for the federal government.
    Lay out the current cabinet level officers.
    Eliminate everything on list two that is not on list one.
    TA-DA! done.

  3. Trump’s masterstroke would be repudiating the debt. Only if he does this might I finally believe in 4d chess. In a single move he could give a jubilee to the whole country, leave big bad China holding the bag, and force balanced budgets into perpetuity as no one will ever lend to the US again. Triple win for team orange. It seems so obvious, yet I don’t hear anyone talking about it.

    1. Of course it could wipe out US bondholders, pension funds, etc., and throw the entire economy into chaos, but fuck it, right?

      1. Following our current course, that’s going to happen anyway. I don’t see the up side of putting it off. There’s no getting out of this hole without digging through some shit. It’s never going to get easier.

      2. Yup and throw the entire US and world economy into an economic collapse which would take us back into the dark ages. Fun times.

        1. Dark ages? No. Just back into the Great Depression. We’ll recover.

          1. Can it wait 20 years?

            Planning to spend my retirement years sitting at the beach bar drinking rum, eating shrimp and oysters, smoking cigars and watching the pretty scenery walking by. So I should be dead by then.

            1. Yeah, I’m also at the age where I hope they’ll muddle through until I die, but we’re cutting it close. The world’s not going to take our IOUs forever.

          2. I mean if it’s going to be sooner I’m going to need to cash out early. Maybe get a place in Costa Rica. I figure it won’t change much there and I can still go with plan A above. There won’t be any tourists so property should be cheap and I hear the locals are friendly.

            1. Meh, I’ll stick with a small farm in Maine living on potatoes, turnips and onions.

              First off, the looters are too lazy to dig them when they come to “take what it theirs”, and secondly….

              I’ll smell so bad, no one will dare get near me in the first place.

              Problem solved!

              1. Sounds like a plan GroundTruth.

            2. Ecuador is another alternative. So is Vietnam, or Panama.

    2. US National Debt Clock

      China held debt is only part of who holds debt.

    3. North49
      December.26.2019 at 1:26 pm
      “Trump’s masterstroke would be repudiating the debt…”

      Yeah, initiating a new, horrendous depression is really a smart move.

    4. Aside from being horrendously stupid, also completely unconstitutional

    5. It’s very possible they’ve given up and there will be a system-wide “reset” on the dollar one day. A “Jubilee” so to speak – and that they are buying time before the complete shock.

      That would explain the whole alternative energy climate hysteria thing – post Petrodollar collapse, we will need electric vehicles because we won’t be able to buy or steal oil.

    6. If by “give a jubilee” you mean “give an economic collapse” and “start World War III by fucking over China,” yep…

  4. Cut spending.
    Phase out programs like Social Security.
    Eliminate departments not covered in the Constitution
    Privatize as much as possible.

    1. There is not a chance in Hell of any of that getting done.

      1. I CAN DREAM!!!!!

    2. Unprivatize the Federal Reserve. Money should be a public utility.

      Actually, most public utilities make sense as public enterprises with the exception of garbage collection.

      Publicly-chartered private enterprises

    3. +10000000 — Heaven forbid the Supreme Law be enforced. The very reason this country succeeded as well as it has.

      I was just thinking that if “Temp Labor” outlets added a “Welfare Dept” that would hold-over times of unemployment (And judged locally on need vs job supply) we could just about eliminate all government sh#t-shows.

  5. Indeed, the only topics that score higher in the Pew poll are drug addiction and the affordability of health care and college educations.

    Any guesses on how many people want government to handle these issues?

    People like to talk about the national debt, but there’s no way a majority of voters would vote for someone who runs on fiscal restraint. The D’s want social spending, and the R’s want defense spending. Old people want entitlements and they vote in droves. In reality it all needs massive cuts. Nobody will ever run office by running on that.

    Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    1. …nobody will ever win office by running on that.

      1. Libertarians win sometimes running on those principles.

        1. Gary Johnson was going to balance the budget in 8 years. He got 3 percent.

        2. They sometimes win local dogcatcher running on those principles, in non-partisan or essentially unchallenged races.

      2. Compromise proposal. 1. Bring back the draft. 2. Conscript all elderly and poors into the military. 3. Combine defense, entitlements, and social spending into one budget. (this will seemingly increase the budget for all three) 4. Send all conscripts to the front lines of whatever desert we’re currently meddling in (see how long public support lasts for foreign interventionism).

        1. My friggin entire platoon has light duty chits. How am I suppose to deploy?

          1. Don’t be a pussy.

        2. My proposal is better: add up all the proposed federal spending (say 4.4 trillion), then divide by the number of adults in the US (say 220 million). Send everyone a bill for their share of the spending (currently around 20,000 USD). I’m thinking demand for spending cuts would go up and demand for new programs would go down. And the rich would finally be paying their fair share. So would the poor.

          1. Send everyone a bill

            And then everyone declares bankruptcy! Great idea.

            1. Nobodies fault but their own — Dodging the consequences (bill) isn’t a sustainable system. Hiding the bill until everyone is utterly bankrupt is just deceitful.

              1. We’re already there. The wealth does not exist for the US to pay its debt, and cannot be created fast enough to service the debt. Default is inevitable.

                1. Lets get the inevitable over with before it gets worse.. Then perhaps we can go in a different direction that won’t cause this mess.

          2. Haha. Well, that would be a radical redefine of the word “fair”.

            “Your ‘fair share’ is waaaayyyyy more than my fair share, and I’m STILL pissed off that they’re not taking more from you!”

            ^ current definition.

            1. ^^ LOL…. 🙂

      3. Of course because libertarians promise people less of everything. Nobody wins elections telling people to pull up their pants and take care of yourselves.

        It is like asking a group of 4th graders to vote on homework and what is for lunch.

        The fun of it is we get to criticize the rest of them.

        “The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it. “– P.J. O’Rourke

    2. The D’s voted to spend money on wars. The R’s created Medicare part D.

      The D’s want to stay in NATO, and use military power to defend allies. The R’s like the elderly vote. It’s not as simple as D’s for social spending and R’s for military.

      1. Fair point. They both suck pretty bad on spending, that’s for sure.

        1. They both suck.

      2. The RINO R’s.. FDR passed Medicare.

    3. Defense is a no brainer to me. We don’t have a defense force we have a vastly oversized attack force. It is all pork barrel.

      You don’t have to be the strongest kid on the block to avoid getting attacked. The second or third strongest works just as well.

      1. You also don’t have to be the one who guarantees no one gets attacked.

        1. Yup

          Checked. Birth certificate, proof of citizenship, social security card, two forms of ID. Just to get a drivers license renewed this year.

          Guarantee of not getting attacked was not there. Did I miss something?

      2. You and I agree on the desire to reduce defense spending….a lot.

        Would you ‘lean out’ entitlement spending as well?

      3. Not sure if we could’ve stopped Hitler without being the strongest kid on the block; so I have my reservations about that idea.

        Defense being a “pork barrel”; I’d certainly go along with though. Still waiting for the Democratic Party to start resisting military spending (crickets…….).. At least the [R] party has Rand Paul a very vocal opponent to more military spending.

        1. We didn’t stop Hitler. The Russians did.

          1. Well, fair enough on a direct counterpoint. But; throwing the U.S. into the “Allies” group against the “Axis” group of Hitler Germany after Pearl Harbor hardly ranks as non-significant to the defeat of Hitler.

  6. are there any countries not running a deficit. maybe China but with out the U.S. they would have nothing

  7. While the debt is a big concern, is there any value in worrying about it. The reality is little will get done. Some people are for raising other people taxes. Some people are for cutting other people services. No one see their own hand in creating the debt. Until we are willing to accept raising our taxes and cutting our service we can not reduce the debt. I don’t see that on the horizon and so why waste my time worrying.

    1. its rather like worrying about dying of cancer. While it may happen, after all 20% of us will likely do so, its not something we have any control over whatsoever.

      If we vote for dems or ‘pubs, the result is the same.

      We spend more money that we take in, year after year, until the house of cards folds.

      1. Patient goes to see doctor.

        Doctor is looking over test results and patient says “well doc am I going to die?”

        Doctor says “yes….eventually”

      2. Regarding elections, while the deficit and the debt increase with either party, history suggests that a Democratic President with at least one House of Congress held by the Republican will yield the lowest increase. Not the best but might be as good as we can do for the time being.

    2. Except to say; Ignoring problems generally isn’t a solution to them.

  8. Holy shit. An honest statement from Boehm.

    “And let’s be clear, it is mostly a spending problem. In the fiscal year that ended on September 30 of this year, federal tax revenues increased by 4 percent but the deficit exploded because spending increased by more than 8 percent. That’s simply unsustainable.”

    A paragraph in this growth being driven from entitlements would be nice. But then we’d have to acknowledge that fact in open border pleas as well.

    1. His statement is not quite accurate. It is not mostly a spending problem. It’s entirely a spending problem. For a given level of government spending, it is irrelevant to the economy overall whether that is financed by taxes or by debt. And using debt is no more onerous for future generations. Economists have proven this mathematically. The conceptual explanation is that future generations will either pay have to pay off the debt or will have fewer resources passed down to them.

      1. Debt is far more onerous. Because we’re getting to the point where the biggest single spending item will be interest on the federal debt. It already would be if rates weren’t so low.

        1. It was pretty close to being the biggest single spending item during the Reagan years.

          It was possibly a bigger contributor to the ballooning of the debt in the 1980s than increases in defense spending was.

        2. “Debt is far more onerous.” Because you say it is? What’s your math behind that statement? If all that deficit spending had been covered by tax revenue we’d be that much poorer. The problem with debt is exactly matched by the problem with taking money out of our hands via taxes. It’s been mathematically proven many times over.

  9. “Poll: Federal Budget Deficit Is a Bigger Problem Than Climate Change, Racism, and Terrorism”.

    Poll taking about what respondents perceive as “bigger” problem(s) does not necessarily correspond to the actual magnitude of such problems in reality.

    Reality will do as it will, regardless of what people think about what might happen. Even the smartest humans still mostly suck at predicting the future, so the average person barely stands a chance even which pure data. But conclusions drawn from “pure data” are hardly ever to be had because vested interests (“think tanks”) play with it for their own purposes.

    Reason has pointed this out countless times, but never in the context of the national debt issue.

    It is always important to remember that the US population has a moron majority, which has only been increasing. That problem will always be the biggest.

    1. “It is always important to remember that the US population has a moron majority…”

      Yes this is by design – with partisans making up most of that majority.

  10. voters are likely to say they want Congress to balance the budget, but are less likely to back any specific ideas for doing so.

    Sure they do. They just have no understanding of numbers or arithmetic. They want the budget to be balanced by cutting Congressional salaries, foreign aid, and welfare for refugees.

  11. Meanwhile, we have some of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, along with media favorite AOC, favoring the so-called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) view that we need not worry about the federal debt, since the government can always issue the currency it needs to pay for all the stuff government “provides”. From an operational standpoint, the MMT crowd gets some things right, but I don’t think they have a coherent explanation of how we’ll avoid harmful inflation – which indeed is the biggest risk in our monetary system.

    As to the people responding to polls, including the people saying they’d like to see a balanced federal budget – they almost all thinking the same context as their own personal budgets. That is pretty silly, because individuals are currency users, while the federal government is a currency issuer. Federal deficits are not necessarily bad – or good. It all comes down to living standards.

    It’s worth noting that there’s no mention of the other side of the balance sheet in this article (which is typical -and not just at Reason).

    If our economy can keep growing, if our population can also keep growing – and if we can avoid losing a war, not become taken over by a corrupt dictator, or some other exogenous and severe event, then I think we’ll be able to avoid serious pain related to the federal debt.

    1. Where have you been for the last three months? AOC is the past.

      1. Like impeachment. So two weeks ago.

  12. The bar graph is encouraging. This century, it seems deficits always grow in a president’s first term, then shrink in the second. Looks like the deficit will peak lower than it did in Obama’s administration, and that we’re about at the peak now.

  13. MMT Baby! What’s the problem? We’ll just print more money. Medicare for all. Everything for all. Let the good times roll!

  14. Possibly an easy way to solve the deficit and to cut government spending is to not expect congress to do so. I propose, I am open o suggestions as well, Change the budget process of “use it or lose it” to “save it and keep it”! As budgets are allocated to countless bureaus and departments they are told if you fail to spend the entire amount you will lose that amount in the next budget. These forces of economics create an incentive to waste money. Instead Let them keep what they save, or half of what they save. This will create an incentive to save as workers will benefit from saving money and we will end the inertia of government spending. BTW. This can probably be achieved through executive order.

    1. Government should only be able to spend this year what they got in last year. Max.

  15. “Federal Budget Deficit Is a Bigger Problem Than Climate Change, Racism, and Terrorism” (combined)

    No shit, Sherlock!

    And far, far, greater than climate change by itself.

  16. The deficit is currently larger than the yearly economic growth. I don’t think any reasonable argument can possibly be made that this is not a disaster waiting to happen. But you don’t have to cut spending all that much to get it below the annual growth, which will over time let the debt shrink relative to the economy. We just have to do that before the interest payments balloon into an unmanageable size.

    This should be what libertarians are pushing. Yes, we want no deficit and much less spending and much less taxation, but we should start with baby steps. The deficit greater than growth situation is an easy point of failure for GOP policy.

  17. But climate change and terrorism are very minor problems statistically, and racism is much lower than it used to be 60 years ago. The annual budget deficit isn’t really a big problem either, except that the government keeps repeating it every year, whether the economy is hot or cold. At 23 trillion dollars and climbing, the federal government’s debt is the biggest problem and the biggest security and economic risk faced by Americans.

    Which is why it hasn’t been asked about in any of the half dozen Democrat debates so far, apparently.

  18. People want government services. But they don’t want to pay for them. The “something for nothing” mentality.

    If you believe in something for nothing, you’re a ripe target for a con artist///////// politician.

  19. Debt = Death

    “Let me issue and control a nation’s money, and I care not who writes the laws.” Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812)

    Basically, Donald Trump is a grifter who made a fortune using other people’s money, leaving many of them with less after his four corporate bankruptcies. He thrived on debt, renamed “credit”. As President, his behavior has not changed. Behavior has its consequences, some short-term and some long-term.

    Mr. Trump was not wrong. Debt for creating and producing can be economically healthful to a nation. Debt for war can be profitable if the warring nation wins. Debt for consuming ultimately is deadly, for society and individuals.

    In the call-to-action novel, Retribution Fever, those who survived a terrible plague had the following vision:

    The survivors envisioned an era in which these United States of America have achieved peace with security. The monetary currency has become sound and stable; the economy, prosperous and dynamic. The limited federal government operates lawfully in accordance with a revised Constitution repaired of its original deficiencies. It does so free from debt. Within appropriate, expected, and reasonable limits, Americans control their own destiny — political, economic, and social.

  20. That poll is BS. Have a candidate promising to cut or freeze spending and they will lose. The people are like children voting for the parents who say yes to all the candy and toys. The mean parents that say no are evil.
    When Harry Reid some years ago cried tears over cutting $20k for Cowboy Poetry you know we have no chance for fiscal responsibility until it is forced upon us.

  21. Sᴛᴀʀᴛ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ғʀᴏᴍ ʜᴏᴍᴇ! Gʀᴇᴀᴛ ᴊᴏʙ ғᴏʀ sᴛᴜᴅᴇɴᴛs, sᴛᴀʏ-ᴀᴛ-ʜᴏᴍᴇ ᴍᴏᴍs ᴏʀ ᴀɴʏᴏɴᴇ ɴᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ ᴀɴ ᴇxᴛʀᴀ ɪɴᴄᴏᴍᴇ… Yᴏᴜ ᴏɴʟʏ ɴᴇᴇᴅ ᴀ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀ ʀᴇʟɪᴀʙʟᴇ ɪɴᴛᴇʀɴᴇᴛ ᴄᴏɴɴᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ… Mᴀᴋᴇ $80 ʜᴏᴜʀʟʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴜᴘ ᴛᴏ $13000 ᴀ ᴍᴏɴᴛʜ ʙʏ ғᴏʟʟᴏᴡɪɴɢ ʟɪɴᴋ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏᴛᴛᴏᴍ ᴀɴᴅ sɪɢɴɪɴɢ ᴜᴘ… Yᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ғɪʀsᴛ ᴄʜᴇᴄᴋ ʙʏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴇɴᴅ ᴏғ ᴛʜɪs ᴡᴇᴇᴋ
    pop over to this website……….. Read More

  22. Hold on a second here. Didn’t Obama ask all the Federal agencies to try and trim $100 million from the books? Didn’t this massive savings solve our debt issues? Assuming is was even ever reached I never heard one way or another. To put that amount of “savings” into perspective is to believe you are removing a large % of weight from an elephant by shaving a single hair off the nut of a fly sitting on the elephant!

  23. The failure to complete the Grand Bargain remains the biggest failure of the Obama presidency and the Boehner speakership. Democrat as president, Republicans controlling Congress is the only way to get the GOP to sober up and quit spending like drunken sailors on shore leave.

  24. Remember George Drug Waffen Bush: “The market is not working!” The spike in spending after Obama was handed Bush’s faith-based asset forfeiture Crash and Depression (from banning plant leaves) is much like the one following Bert Hoover’s attempt to enforce the Increased Penalties Act of March 2, 1929, making light beer a chain-gang felony with a fine worth 30 lbs of today’s gold. Republican prohibitionist asset forfeiture causes economic train wrecks the Dems cannot match–not for lack of trying!

    1. Have you ever written anything intelligible?

  25. I find it humorous how now that Trump is President the lefty-media everywhere is complaining about the Trump-Budget but when it comes to actual proposals to limit the Trump-Budget its always the left that obstructs the cuts.

    1. Because the left wants to cut a military budget that spends hundreds of millions an hour on nothing useful and the right wants to take food away from poor American children.

      1. I didn’t know the USA operated like a Monarchy where “food” was distributed by the King…..

        Do you have an example of this so called proposals to “cut military spending” or just a whole slew of complaints on how “our spending” isn’t as BIG as the military???

  26. Haha … Republicans are fiscal conservatives ONLY when Dems are in power

    1. As if – the recent Democratic power in the House and the jacked up deficit that came with it; doesn’t throw that theory under the bus.

      1. It has noting to do with the massive tax cut LOL

        1. You’re a year behind Tonto… Tax Cuts & Jobs Act Dec 2017. Democrats won the House in 2018.
          2016 Deficit $584
          2017 Deficit $665 + 81
          2018 Deficit $779 + 114 (<– Oh those horrible Tax Cuts)
          2019 Deficit $984 + 205 (<– Oh those horrible [D] policies 2x the addition)

      2. Actually the theory works when a Democrat is President and the Republicans control at least one house of Congress. The Republicans will embrace deficit reduction and the President will usually cut a deal. This doesn’t eliminate deficits but will act to reduce them. Not the best but about the best you can get these days.

  27. People really make a bigger deal out of clearing away the deficit than they need to.

    All we need to do is get to EVEN. Not running a big surplus, just break even every year. After a decade the true value will be reduced 20-35% simply by inflation. Keep it even for another 5-10 years and it’s a non issue again.

    Likewise social security and other crap that shouldn’t exist can also be saved by very minor course adjustments. It’s all such small shit on the margins nobody would even notice any of it happening.

    Honestly, I think the USA really needs a Sulla to come in and straighten shit out…

    1. Problem is that going to even a balanced budget would reduce inflation to about zero. Budget surpluses would result in deflation which is seen by almost everyone as recession.

      The problem is that every change, spending cuts (real ones). interest cuts etc is going to bring on a recession. Now for some a recession is simply an “adjustment”, a time to liquidate bad investments, shake out “excess liquidity” etc but for those on the margins, living “paycheck to paycheck”* it represents real hardship even descent into abject poverty. This makes for a volatile political climate to put it mildly.

      I’m seriously concerned that it is not actually possible to “transition out of this” gradually.

      *of course, many of those living “paycheck to paycheck” are actually quite capable of saving but choose not to. It is worth keeping in mind that for any number of reasons the disaffected underclass will possibly expand many times in stressful times (not to mention the number of quite advantaged youth who inevitably join all revolutionary movements; eg among others, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara).

      1. But that’s not necessarily true.

        You can have inflation with a balanced budget. The Fed has other ways to kick cash out there other than government debt, and if the economy is expanding they can and should issue more money either way.

        And as far as reducing spending causing a recession… Well first off, recessions normally happen every few years, and aren’t that severe… So who cares? A managed transition would obviously be needed. You can’t just cut several hundred billion in spending overnight, THAT would be a big problem. But over several years it would be fine.

        All that cash not having to be paid to the government in taxes, or spent on buying BS treasury bonds, would have to be spent on other things… Things that are 110% guaranteed to be better for the economy than whatever BS the government is wasting the money on now. So as long as there is a reasonable transition, no major economic hiccups need happen.

        The fact is half the commenters here given the power to unilaterally make decisions could steer the US to a balanced budget with no major issues… It’s just that the Pols are all too stupid and cowardly to do what needs to be done, because it will rile the shit out of low IQ voters who aren’t smart enough to realize it needs to be done. They’re all too afraid to do the right thing.

        Which is why it will probably only be dealt with when it’s a catastrophe that we’re smack dab in the middle of. It would take a truly badass and charismatic leader to be able to tackle straightening this shit out sans a major emergency.

  28. Doesn’t suck Trump cock enough to be a true libertarian.

  29. Here is a little thought experiment to put this in perspective. Lets say you make $50,000 per year. You owe $1,000,000,000 on your credit card. You have not made a payment since FDR was president. No problem the FED will loan you another $100,000 and not send you a bill. What kind of bank does that?

    1. A bank whose sole purpose is stealing money from every citizen in the USA either by seizing 30% of all income or printing fiat of the money supply and indirectly seizing 30% of all income/produce or actually both at the same time.

  30. Nice article on federal budget deficit. You can see more thermosyphon cooling system

  31. Mayor Pete…”we need to recognize that we’re approaching a point where you can’t ignore spending we need to do on infrastructure and safety net and health and education being crowded by debt service.”

    So, his plan is spend gobs more money while at the same time decrease the debt and debt service…see a contradiction here?

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