Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Response to Ezra Klein's Debt Chart

Ezra Klein has a post that cites a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report attempting to show that the US debt isn't really Obama's fault.  Here's the graph from the report:

The implication, being, of course, that if we just got rid of those mean ol' Bush Tax Cuts, everything would be hunky-dory.

There's just one teeny little problem.  On the same CBPP site, there's another report entitled CBO: Ending High-Income Tax Cuts Would Save Almost $1 Trillion.  Oddly, this report in in absolute numbers, rather than percent of GDP.  It's also over a ten-year period, rather than until just 2019.  I just don't know why they won't do these things as apples-to-apples comparisions.

So I hauled out Excel, input the CBO's GDP forecasts and summed up the savings from the CBPP post, and looked at what would happen if we reinstated the Bush tax cuts for everybody making more that $250K a year.

In 2019, that comes out to a debt savings of 3.1% of GDP.  Non-trivial, to be sure.  But let's re-do that chart, shall we?  (I don't have access to the raw data, so I'm doing this free-hand...)

Now, given that Obama has repeatedly said that he wouldn't raise taxes on anybody with an income over $250K, you pretty much have to hold him responsible for everything below the green stuff.  Kinda puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

If you'd like to blame Bush for the wars, go right ahead.  But the last time I checked, Iraq expenditures were way down and Obama's also repeatedly told us how the "real war" was in Afghanistan.  Again, whose policy are we following now?

If the President would like to stay stuck on step one of the Three Envelopes Joke, I guess he can do whatever he wants.  Personally, I'm leaning toward step three.

UPDATE 8/30/12:  Made the second chart a bit prettier.

1 comment:

Karl Hallowell said...

I read this blog for a couple of months and I like what I read. If this site is intended as a means of personal expression, then everything is just fine. I gather that's your intent. If you're looking to monetize this or some other ambitious thing, well, you'll need an audience. But you know all that already.

In any case, this blog has made it onto my list that I read. I hope things go as well for you as you desire in the future!

As to your question about "apples to apples" comparisons, I think we already know the answer. Because, as you found out, the comparison would hurt some of the claims made by the organization in question.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where such deception is mundane, routine, and worst of all, accepted.

It'll also be interesting to see what major contributors to the deficit are being ignored by the above analysis.