Somebody tell America
The day President Obama stepped into office he inherited a record projected $1.2 trillion deficit that turned out to be $1.4 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2009. This year the projected deficit is $759 billion, down from a projected $973 billion.
That means the deficit of the president’s first year of his second term is about 45% smaller than the deficit of his first year in office. It’s a bit shy of his promise to reduce the deficit in half by the end of his first term. But he made that promise before anyone had any idea just how bad the financial crisis of 2008 really was.
At least one economist suggests that we have a 1 in 3 shot of ending up with a budget surplus in the next few years.
Of course, this rapid deficit reduction is the result of the only way that long-term deficit reduction has ever been achieved: tax increases on the rich and job creation.
We’ve been in a slow but steady economic recovery for years. More than a million jobs were created int he first half of this year.
Can you imagine how quickly Republicans would turn Mt. Rushmore into Mt. Romney if he’d cut the deficit by $214 billion and created a million jobs?
So how are Republicans reacting to the news of Obama’s epic feat of fiscal conservatism? Threatening to blow up the global economy by defaulting on our debt if the president won’t cut Social Security, a program that’s completely solvent until 2033.
But they’re willing to negotiate!
The president can privatize Social Security for a debt limit increase that will last until the end of his term. Or he can just reduce the amount seniors get by degrees in exchange for shorter debt limit increases.
How can they get away with holding one of our most beloved and necessary programs hostage? America seems to have no idea that the deficit is shrinking rapidly, probably too rapidly. Only 6% percent were aware that it was actually falling the last time the question was polled.
Meanwhile the sequester — which does nothing to reduce the long-term deficit — is killing 750,000 jobs and the federal government is still shedding jobs while much of America– including recent graduates and low-skilled workers — are still in a depression.
We could take $214 billion of projected deficit that has been erased in the last few months and implement part of the president’s jobs bill that experts say would easily create over 1 million jobs. Or we can take the billions Republican states are rejecting in Medicaid expansion and put Americans to work.
But reducing the deficit by putting Americans back to work has never been the Republicans’ goal. They’ve wanted to take a crisis created by bankers and use to to gut what’s left of our social safety net. And they’re not going to let the facts get in the way of that agenda.
[Image by Anne Savage]