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More hard and compelling facts this morning from the estimable Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research:

The story of out-of-control debts and deficits is just plain wrong. US deficits have fallen in the past four years

It is understandable that the public is disgusted with Washington; they have every right to be. At a time when the country continues to suffer from the worst patch of unemployment since the Great Depression, the government is shut down over concerns about the budget deficit.

There is no doubt that the Republicans deserve the blame for the shutdown and the risk of debt default. They decided that it was worth shutting down the government and risking default in order stop Obamacare. That is what they said as loudly and as clearly as possible in the days and weeks leading up to the shutdown. In fact, this is what Senator Ted Cruz said for 21 straight hours on the floor of the US Senate.

Going to the wall for something that is incredibly important is a reasonable tactic. However, the public apparently did not agree with the Republicans. Polls show that they overwhelmingly oppose their tactic of shutting down the government and risking default over Obamacare. As a result, the Republicans are now claiming that the dispute is actually over spending. Read More

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Dean BakerOne of the country’s keenest economic policy observers, Dean Baker, has an excellent take down of Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson’s latest demands that the U.S. slash social spending this morning at the Center for Economic and Policy Research website. His message: America’s obsession with near-term deficits remains utterly illogical and counterproductive: 

“First, the budget is only constrained at the moment by superstition. There is no obstacle to the government borrowing more money to meet needs and put people back to work. We are not spending more money because we have superstitious people with large amounts of power who are making claims about the dangers of deficits that they cannot support with evidence. Rather than lecturing seniors, who have a median income of $20,000, on the need for lower Social Security and Medicare benefits, Obama could try to confront the people spreading superstitions about deficits….

…In fact, according to the Social Security Trustees projections, Read More

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Author and thinker Dr. David Korten has a worth-reading post this morning at Common Dreams. This is the intro:

“The political debate in the United States and Europe has focused attention on public financial deficits and how best to resolve them. Tragically, the debate largely ignores the deficits that most endanger our future.

In the United States, as Republican deficit hawks tell the story, ‘America is broke. We must cut government spending on social programs we cannot afford. And we must lower taxes on Wall Street job creators so they can invest to get the economy growing, create new jobs, increase total tax revenues, and eliminate the deficit.’

Democrats respond, ‘Yes, we’re pretty broke, but the answer is to raise taxes on Wall Street looters to pay for government spending that primes the economic pump by putting people to work building critical infrastructure and performing essential public services. This puts money in people’s pockets to spend on private sector goods and services and is our best hope to grow the economy.’

Democrats have the better side of the argument, but both sides have it wrong on two key points. Read More

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If you’re looking for an insightful, big-picture overview of the Obama administration’s 2013 budget plan, you would be hard-pressed to find a better place to start than a statement released this afternoon by the President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Robert Greenstein.

Greenstein’s statement makes a key point that should put to rest some of the deficit hysteria that’s already accompanied the release of the new budget plan:  the Obama administration’s budget would stabilize the federal debt over the next decade through a balanced mix of spending reductions and additional revenues.

The whole statement is worth reading, but here are the top-line messages:

The President’s budget would, if enacted, make significant progress in reducing deficits, although policymakers would have to take further steps, especially for future decades.  Under its economic assumptions, it would achieve what most budget analysts, and all recent bipartisan commissions or panels, have identified as the crucial fiscal goal for the decade ahead — stabilizing the debt so that it no longer rises faster than the economy. Read More

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Economist Dean Baker has a fascinating post at the CEPR blog entitled “A Tale of Two Deficit Charts.” In it, he explains how both Repubs and Dems have been guilty of promoting misleading stories on the origins and future of the federal deficit. The real culprit, Baker argues persuasively, was/is the collapse of the economy that was precipitated by the bursting of the housing bubble.

 Here is the excellent conclusion: Read More