Saturday, May 21, 2011

"An Update to that Deficit Chart"

James Fallows (The Atlantic):
DeficitChartthmb.jpgLast week I mentioned the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities Chart that analyzed the sources of the federal budget deficit. For old time's sake, a thumbnail of that chart is at right. The original explanation and source notes are on the CBPP's site. In brief: the parts in shades of blue are stimulus-related outlays and depressed revenues for economic slowdown. The big dark-golden colored central swath is the revenue forgone by extending the Bush-era tax cuts.*

The CBPP has now applied its analysis not to the annual deficit but to the accumulated public debt -- the growth of which, of course, has been the source of so much political rhetoric and anxiety over the past year. The color coding is basically the same; the fine print and analysis are here; and the upshot is, as Chad Stone of the CBPP puts it,
"simply letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule (or paying for any portions that policymakers decide to extend) would stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio for the next decade. While we'd have to do much more to keep the debt stable over the longer run, that would be a huge accomplishment."

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