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InsiderOnline Blog: August 2011

Work to Do

“Instead of our nation running toward bankruptcy we will be walking toward bankruptcy,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham earlier this week. He was speaking of the debt-ceiling deal.

Indeed, the Budget Control Act provides only the Washington definition of a spending cut: Up to $2.4 trillion less than the spending that was expected to take place over the next 10 years under current law. Year-to-year, government spending will still go up. Even judged against that low bar, the cuts are miniscule. Next year’s expected budget deficit of $3.6 trillion is cut by only $22 billion—less than 1 percent. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s June Outlook, debt held by the public was expected to rise from $10.35 trillion to $20.1 trillion in 2021. Shaving off $2.4 trillion means that instead of public debt rising from 69 percent of gross domestic product to 101 percent of GDP in 2021, it will hit 89 percent of GDP instead.

But the deal does contain this consolation: According to Sen. Rob Portman, who is also a former director of the Office of Management and Budget, if future debt-ceiling increases follow the rule of matching reductions in 10-year outlays with increases in borrowing authority, then we will have a balanced budget by the year 2021.

Let’s hope Portman’s optimism proves more accurate than Graham’s fatalism. As Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner puts it, the work of fiscal conservatives has only begun.

To read: Make the Dollar-for-dollar Rule Permanent, by Rob Portman, Wall Street Journal; Morning Bell: Our Work Has Only Begun, by Ed Feulner, The Heritage Foundation; Budget Deal Doesn’t Cut Spending, by Chris Edwards, Cato Institute; The Next Deficit Reduction Deal, by Kevin Williamson, National Review Online.

Posted on 08/05/11 09:43 AM by Alex Adrianson

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