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Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Budget Deficit

David Broder thinks we have a real crisis on our hands with the budget deficits projected to be huge this year and into the future. He is outraged that the Bushies say the deficit is manageable, and he calls for a public education campaign on the subject, modeled after Ross Perot's infomercials in 1992. He's right that deficits are bad news, but Broder's response is puzzling to me coming from a guy who is so revered and experienced.

First off, he shouldn't be shocked by the Bush administration tactics. They have a pattern of deception (oh God, I sound like Krugman) on economic policy that has been established the past few years with the way they've sold the tax cuts, blamed Clinton for the recession and more. They know exactly what they are doing, which is a repeat of Reagan's trick in the '80s--cutting the tax base so that long-term federal spending must come down. They are forcing future administrations to make the government smaller, a goal of the American right.

And second, Broder's treatment of Ross Perot as some sort of wonderful economic educator is strange too. Perot certainly got people riled up, but he also used very flawed economic logic during his campaign (and after), especially with regard to NAFTA. I don't think it's healthy to build up a reliance that once a decade a crazy billionaire will come along, buy up TV time, and educate the public about economics. That isn't necessary, either, because stronger leadership by the Democrats on fiscal policy in opposing Bush's destructive ways would do the same job.