Jun 12, 2009

Rational Budget Talk from Jonathan Chait

Jonathan Chait injects some reality into the national budget debate—applicable to the Wisconsin budget debate.

Chait, one should note, famously wrote of the early Bush-Cheney budgetary statements: "He's [Bush] lying," and that deficits and mounting debt were sure to follow. Chait was right. And he's right again.

From The New Republic:

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column pointing out how strange it is that President Obama is being blamed for huge budget deficits, when the projected deficits we face are entirely due to policies he inherited. In my column, I cited this paper by the Center on Budget and Policy priorities, which found that Obama's budget would reduce the budget by $900 billion over ten years compared with keeping current policies in place.

Yesterday David Leonhardt of the New York Times took up a similar question. Leonhardt looked at the budget from 2009 through 2012, and tried to figure out what had changed in those years since 2001. He found that the business cycle accounted for 37% of the higher red ink. More than half came from legislation signed by President Bush. Seven percent came from Obama's stimulus bill, and only three percent from his regular budget.

It was an admirable and serious article. A good sense of how serious can be seen in the contrast to a Politico story that ran the same day. Politico concerned itself entirely with the perception that Obama is responsible for the new debt without bothering to explore the merits of the perception. It ran quotes alleging as much (GOP Sen. John Cornyn: 'This was not an inherited situation. This was a matter entirely of this administration’s and this Democratic leadership’s making') without pointing out that the allegation is demonstrably false.

This debate such as it is sounds familiar in Wisconsin political circles with the same malarkey emitting from the GOP and its shills.

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