Skip to main content

Over at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Kathy Ruffing and James R. Horney are reminding us - in case we've forgotten the way so much of the media have - that the deficits we're facing in the next decade are due to the economic downturn, financial rescues, and Cheney-Bush policies, including the tax cuts they crafted for their wealthy cronies.

Some critics continue to assert that President George W. Bush’s policies bear little responsibility for the deficits the nation faces over the coming decade — that, instead, the new policies of President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress are to blame. Most recently, a Heritage Foundation paper downplayed the role of Bush-era policies. ... Nevertheless, the fact remains: Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.

The deficit for fiscal year 2009 was $1.4 trillion and, at nearly 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), was the largest deficit relative to the size of the economy since the end of World War II. If current policies are continued without changes, deficits will likely approach those figures in 2010 and remain near $1 trillion a year for the next decade.

The events and policies that have pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term, however, were largely outside the new Administration’s control. If not for the tax cuts enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were initiated during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression (including the cost of steps necessary to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.

Ultimately, of course, it will be up to women and men of good sense to deal with the accumulated indebtedness caused by the Great Recession, the trillions spent on war and the Cheney-Bush welfare for their pals. But, whatever one's point of view about how the current administration has handled the economic mess we're in or how much Democrats prior to 2001 contributed to laying the foundation for that mess, nobody can deny with a straight face that the mess was inherited.

Ruffing and Horney point out that the Iraq and Afghan wars and the Cheney-Bush tax cuts will add $7 trillion in deficits in 2009 through 2019, including interest on that borrowed money). On the other hand, the cost of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus package) and other legislation designed to pull us back from the brink will add $1.1 trillion over the same period, including interest. And yet, as the CBPP authors point out, the Heritage Foundation - which has for more than three and a half decades been boosting the fortunes of politicians making economic war on Americans in the bottom 80% of the population - dares to claim that Cheney-Bush policies are having no significant impact on deficits.

Riiiiiiiight. Just as the supply-side economics that Heritage helped cram down our throats in the Reagan era had no impact on the upward transfer of wealth of the past 30 years.

Thanks to deficit commission co-chief Alan Simpson and others, we know what one of the big pushes is going to be regarding deficits. Eviscerating Social Security. But as the folks at Campaign for America's Future have noted, Social Security is not going to bankrupt the country by massively increasing the deficit through entitlement spending as long as our political leaders take a few corrective steps. And those don't require raising the age of retirement yet again. We don't need generational warfare added to class warfare to handle structural deficit problems.

A study by the National Academy of Social Insurance last October made this clear. Lifting the cap on earned income above $107,000 would take care of much of the problem, or, we "could at least set the cap so that it covers 90 percent of the earned income of all workers, as Congress originally intended; because high-end salaries have exploded while low-end salaries have stagnated, the current cap covers only 83 percent of earned income."

Moreover, as CAF says, Social Security benefits need to be raised:

The average Social Security benefit — $1,155 per month, or about $13,860 per year for a retired worker — is only slightly higher than the U.S. poverty thresholds. And it’s less than what a retired person actually needs to meet all of their basic needs when you take into the account the rising cost of medical care and housing. The average retiree still paying a mortgage on their home would need almost twice what they’re receiving in Social Security in order to make ends meet, according to one recent report.

A popular argument is that since people are living longer, we should raise the retirement age. Under current law, the age at which people are eligible for full Social Security benefits is set to increase to age 67 for people born in 1960 or later. That means Social Security’s full retirement age is already much older than eligibility ages in private (or public) pension plans, which remain 65 or earlier. Moreover, it is older than the ages for penalty-free withdrawals from 401(k)s or IRAs (59½). Finally, at a time when some economists argue that the country is going into a long-term period of historically high unemployment, it makes no sense to force older workers to stay in the workforce longer than they want.

Only the most thoroughgoing hypocrites can claim they seek to deal with deficit spending while ring-fencing military expenditures. The United States continues to spend more than the next 20 countries combined for military purposes, a good portion of that is to maintain access to resources, particularly oil. With a clean-energy economy, that spending could be vastly reduced and focused purely on defense. Getting there might require a little more deficit spending in the short run for the sums needed to really make clean energy a reality. But in the not-too-distant long run, the return on that investment would allow us to reduce military spending and would also generate the jobs needed to improve the economy and thus the tax base and thus our ability to pay off the accumulated debt.

But you can pretty much be sure that these military cuts, vast investments in clean energy and sensible Social Security changes will not be part of the deficit commission's recommendations. Moving in that direction will require, as reform always does, dogged progressive efforts.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 12:52 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

grytpype, N in Seattle, Pat K California, Lisa, claude, bink, Renee, Kitty, JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, leap, paradox, Superskepticalman, Hunter, Ed in Montana, cdreid, Angie in WA State, zzyzx, ljb, Mimikatz, dbg, Sylv, vicki, Terri, TXdem, SteveLCo, tgs1952, northsylvania, RF, LeislerNYC, PrahaPartizan, Bill in Portland Maine, Mogolori, Ray Radlein, Phoenix Woman, Common Sense Mainer, Odysseus, eugene, ogre, SarahLee, dalemac, teacherken, slinkerwink, Trendar, miasmo, bob in ny, Geenius at Wrok, Joan McCarter, TrueBlueMajority, Danno11, maynard, BigOkie, emal, janinsanfran, RunawayRose, karlpk, dengre, tommurphy, alicia, Coldblue Steele, Shockwave, byteb, Fishgrease, Andrew C White, kpardue, bramish, meg, baffled, Stein, Beet, mslat27, eeff, willyr, dkistner, xynz, brillo, LeftHandedMan, MackInTheBox, elfling, frisco, lawnorder, dash888, BenGoshi, expatjourno, Gram E, Creosote, msstaley, goObama, Heart of the Rockies, sardonyx, soonergrunt, bara, nicki37, opinionated, Mr Teem, ReneInOregon, bronte17, Zinman, 88kathy, sponson, indybend, Silverleaf, Cassandra77, elveta, annrose, sfgb, djMikulec, srkp23, Agathena, pattym922, highacidity, Pithy Cherub, boadicea, chuckvw, Stumptown Dave, Porfiry, tmmike, rickpickett, barath, Aquarius40, roses, nabwilson, taonow, JuliaAnn, ovals49, pollbuster, Larry Bailey, nargel, Miss Blue, sngmama, itskevin, fumie, bustacap, high uintas, Alna Dem, Chrisfs, Eddie C, wader, Quege, jdmorg, Texknight, Oke, hhex65, scorpiorising, Dube, psnyder, Moody Loner, hangingchad, nancelot, danthrax, sockpuppet, TexDem, Winnie, Miss Jones, missliberties, ranger995, brainwave, Lawrence, gmb, grannyhelen, alivingston, TiaRachel, Viola Lee, jaywillie, tln41, churchylafemme, Bulldawg, texasmom, HeyMikey, niteskolar, Nemagaiq, GN1927, ohiolibrarian, Chirons apprentice, On The Bus, Steven Payne, cat chew, applegal, AbsurdEyes, chillindame, RebeccaG, Democratic Hawk, inclusiveheart, dkmich, Diana in NoVa, Sembtex, side pocket, Curt Matlock, Lefty Mama, KayCeSF, JayDean, SanDiegoDem, Marianne Benz, poemworld, xyz, DarkSyde, bronxdem, lyvwyr101, Pam LaPier, bablhous, rickeagle, Schwede, AlwaysDemocrat, Jen Hayden, eztempo, Sybil Liberty, Timroff, sebastianguy99, Armand451, bay of arizona, environmentalist, My Philosophy, TexMex, oortdust, Jersey Joe, Julie Gulden, Karma for All, vcmvo2, Recovering Southern Baptist, ExStr8, maybeeso in michigan, bloomer 101, sandblaster, marina, radarlady, 3goldens, Tinfoil Hat, PAbluestater, Treg, NoMoreLies, Jagger, TexasTom, DianeNYS, snstara, UncleCharlie, lilypew, caul, jarneys dad, JanetT in MD, CTPatriot, relentless, Independent Musings, liberalcheesehead, PBen, Jersey Girl, Alice Venturi, Flint, willibro, elkhunter, panicbean, clammyc, DocGonzo, kefauver, ajsuited, eightlivesleft, drewfromct, Brooke In Seattle, Gary Norton, reflectionsv37, ratzo, boofdah, eru, owlbear1, Annalize5, Chaoslillith, dansk47, majcmb1, Pam from Calif, Sun Tzu, washingtonsmith, Jaime Frontero, jimstaro, Sara R, jimreyn, where4art, lcbo, Inland, GreyHawk, cspivey, cassidy3, Overseas, Little Lulu, Skid, bluemanredtex, blue jersey mom, sunbro, paxpdx, Cecile, PinHole, exmearden, Tool, SBandini, nyseer, Geekesque, noemie maxwell, Savvy813, cerulean, CWalter, Ginny in CO, FightTheFuture, neroden, FindingMyVoice, sodalis, coolbreeze, dazed in pa, deepsouthdoug, dsteffen, Rogneid, bookwoman, Unduna, peacestpete, JanL, Ekaterin, JanF, dancewater, terjeanderson, hatdog, fhcec, noweasels, Jim P, begone, forbodyandmind, SoulCatcher, Mother Mags, martini, third Party please, gwilson, judyzola, tarheelblue, Debbie in ME, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, highfive, myboo, vigilant meerkat, sherlyle, cybersaur, 417els, Clytemnestra, ferallike, sambar, BlueInARedState, emeraldmaiden, Gorette, rl en france, Yellow Canary, borkitekt, victoria2dc, martyc35, KenBee, mrobinson, rhetoricus, Albatross, dangangry, anastasia p, tbetz, kck, greenearth, Hobbitfoot, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, megisi, SherriG, triv33, birdbrain64, MJ via Chicago, eglantine, global citizen, A Siegel, 4Freedom, Francine Shacter, gpoutney, WV TN DEM, bubbanomics, Glorfindel, gooderservice, gatorcog, Libby Shaw, Bush Bites, JVolvo, NearlyNormal, bleeding heart, Preston S, el cid, MarciaJ720, gabriella, boatsie, sceptical observer, PJEvans, ER Doc, soccergrandmom, Unitary Moonbat, doinaheckuvanutjob, middleagedhousewife, hlsmlane, Pilgrim X, justiceputnam, Turbonerd, Cenobyte, profh, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, va dare, goinsouth, blueoregon, kurt, revgerry, shaharazade, Statusquomustgo, PoxOnYou, Blicero, Bernie68, Hedwig, blueintheface, mariachi mama, markthshark, mapman, Aaa T Tudeattack, BentLiberal, DBunn, Thinking Fella, tegrat, pale cold, sephius1, One Pissed Off Liberal, BoyBlue, pinkhighway, Noor B, FoundingFatherDAR, lightfoot, bluicebank, BeninSC, donnamarie, Habitat Vic, wa ma, Cat Whisperer, Loudoun County Dem, byDesign, dmh44, FWIW, possum, godislove, leema, jetskreemr, momoaizo, suburi, gloriana, gtghawaii, moosely2006, yoduuuh do or do not, Outrider, FishOutofWater, la urracca, Nespolo, jeanette0605, Inventor, Jimdotz, terabytes, mommyof3, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, dclawyer06, certainot, ilex, DWG, joyful, Unbozo, aliasalias, St Louis Woman, Strabo, bnasley, malharden, kingyouth, HCKAD, jayden, GMFORD, vbdietz, Uberbah, Oreo, mudslide, SeaTurtle, bobswern, jnhobbs, Moderation, carpunder, OIL GUY, pioneer111, Rumarhazzit, uciguy30, Got a Grip, leonard145b, Brahman Colorado, number six, LWelsch, ImpeachKingBushII, JML9999, A Person, cacamp, Don midwest, Jahiz, Hens Teeth, Counselor730, Terra Mystica, TomP, Empower Ink, VA Breeze, MKinTN, alkalinesky, gundyj, revm3up, mconvente, davidseth, Justus, condorcet, JeffW, DraftChickenHawks, RickMassimo, weegeeone, wayoutinthestix, caseymarc4, rontun, scooter in brooklyn, ScottyUrb, mamamedusa, Involuntary Exile, dadadata, brooklynbadboy, Fe Bongolan, theunreasonableHUman, skohayes, filby, CDH in Brooklyn, ajr111240, Akonitum, VL Baker, jamess, beltane, Calamity Jean, Lujane, rssrai, pamelabrown, Wek, geomoo, Jake Williams, bluesheep, TokenLiberal, MsWings, Jeff Y, Ladyhawk, Seamus D, royalscam, change the Be, Gemina13, glendaw271, meldroc, petulans, winterbanyan, bob zimway, luckylizard, LaEscapee, DixieDishrag, BYw, allie123, psilocynic, magicsister, Futuristic Dreamer, In her own Voice, Mike Taylor, toom, watercarrier4diogenes, Diogenes2008, squarewheel, Wild Starchild, Celtic Merlin, maggiejean, JGBfan, Sun dog, SciMathGuy, Pris from LA, multilee, pileta, Rhysling, Ran3dy, cybrestrike, smellybeast, MufsMom, DontTaseMeBro, Neon Vincent, Texanomaly, Rick Aucoin, Coach Jay, Tomsank, litoralis, greengemini, Boycott for Peace, divineorder, Magick Maven, An Affirming Flame, Baldur, be the change you seek, LeftOfYou, pvlb, notrouble, Partisan Progressive, h bridges, War on Error, SciVo, CamillesDad1, rini6, JesseCW, shalca, DefendOurConstitution, lookit, unspeakable, beijingbetty, dRefractor, MKSinSA, TheOpinionGuy, SteveP, Zeke12, Corneliusmingus, Leslie in KY, sanglug, hyper, allep10, Denise Oliver Velez, kevinpdx, Shelley99, exregis, IreGyre, Kiku, RadioGirl, sfarkash, louisprandtl, 57andFemale, maxzj05, Muzikal203, A Voice, jfromga, nancat357, Bene Gesserit1, P Mikkelsen, mahakali overdrive, Dragon5616, vcthree, Livvy5, Adept2u, davespicer, Randtntx, deviant24x, citisven, ratmach, Cleopatra, Larsstephens, ozarkspark, Railfan, lompe, BigVegan, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, ppl can fly, coppercelt, BrighidG, henlesloop, awcomeon, angelesmartian, rb137, marabout40, KroneckerD, FogCityJohn, patrickz, dorkenergy, LaughingPlanet, flgator4life, publicv, psfinla, Susan Grigsby, The Free Agent, marsanges, mamak, jethrock, stunzeed, Crabby Abbey, Melissa J, trixied13, lasermoth, melpomene1, JoanMar, noclue, OldLady in BC, samanthab, pixxer, elginblt, ItsSimpleSimon, Goingallout, juturna, ThisIsMyTime, Cure7802, rfall, NYWheeler, Yasuragi, sharonsz, JRandomPoster, bamajunky, Funkygal, addisnana, Johnny Q, shel3364, Betty Pinson, alethea, elengul, ericlewis0, Floande, Nada Lemming, cocinero, quityurkidding, alamacTHC, science nerd, nosleep4u, Actbriniel, Jonze, weathertom, no way lack of brain, Onomastic, BrowniesAreGood, gobears2000, the girl, Colorado is the Shiznit, angstall, Front Toward Enemy, MidwestTreeHugger, Bluefin, allenjo, annominous, Wilma Rudolph, jtown, I love OCD, ozsea1, Valerie8435, StateofEuphoria, ban nock, nervousnellie, Fletcher Christensen, sowsearsoup, wildlife advocate, Kharafina, freesia, cooper888, La Gitane, poorbuster, BlueJessamine, We Want Change, QuestionAuthority, Mistral Wind, soothsayer99, FarWestGirl, BlueHead, Situational Lefty, Sand Hill Crane, LousyDeemo, Civil Writes Activist, KelleyRN2, mawazo, princesspat, takatobimasu, Jed Lewison, Late Spring, PedalingPete, majii, Cinnamon Rollover, thomask, theone718, dle2GA, JohnInOregon, KVoimakas, tardis10, worldlotus, Vtdblue, IL JimP, healthy, corvaire, Keori, pensivelady, zapus, Safina, dibsa, VTCC73, kid funkadelic, StateOfGrace, Marihilda, Wom Bat, Jantman, innereye, SoCalSal, SteelerGrrl, Book of Hearts, Willa Rogers, leftykook, StepLeftStepForward, Nightshade Q, Tom Seaview, jaebone, ParkRanger, allergywoman, good intentions, Dakit, deltadoc, DawnN, Dom9000, bluebottles, Arizona Al, Only Needs a Beat, Patric Juillet, LiLaF, James Robinson, ridemybike, dendron gnostic, sjterrid, miles2go, erictmacknight, Gay CA Democrat, Hookah, Aji, charliehall2, docrocktex, im a plugger, delmardougster, dance you monster, Eric Nelson, passionateprotagonist, Miep, AreDeutz, draa, Trotskyrepublican, West Michigan Dem, drnononono, CapeTown96

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site