The incredible shrinking deficit
Cardiff Garcia sends us this cool deficit reduction chart:
If you like your numbers raw, then there's this,
"In dollar terms, the Congressional Budget Office estimates for the July fiscal balance (which will be released next week) suggest that the deficit totaled $722bn in the 12 months ending in July, down from a peak of $1.471trn in December 2009; we now expect the deficit to total $650bn in FY 13 and $550bn in FY14".
Plenty of people are lamenting this show of "austerity" with unemployment still high.
If we had been better Keynesians in the past, we would have used the "boom and not the bust" for "austerity", and could have run an expansionary policy longer. But in the absence of a proven connection between fiscal stimulus and sustainable job growth (sorry Brad and Larry), and the presence of our high and still rising debt levels and the continual damaging political theatre around debt ceiling breaches, I am fine with this rate of deficit reduction.
What is not so great about the deficit reduction we are getting is that it doesn't address longer run budget issues, and the deficit is projected to start rising again in 2015 and get ugly shortly thereafter.
I'm happy we've reduced war spending and cut the military (at least as a % of GDP). We can do that some more. But I don't see any achievable solution to our long run deficit drivers. People we can't even get chained CPI as the benchmark for social security increases. That was treated like running over grandma with a reindeer.
The good side to me is that our government actually "worked". Politicians saw the huge deficits as a problem and enacted policies to reduce them (at least for a while). The bad side is that the policy process burned tons of trust and political capital without addressing our real, long-run budget problems.