Tag: deficit

Trump’s Deficit Chickens Now Coming Home To Roost

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The first of two official government reports that will be released this month showing that the federal budget deficit is soaring was issued on Monday when the Congressional Budget Office published it’s Monthly Budget Review for August.

According to CBO, the deficit through the first 11 months of fiscal 2018 was $895 billion, a $222 billion (32.8 percent) increase over the same period in 2017.

Some of the increase was the result of timing shifts, that is, spending that was made at the end of August because the first two days of September were on weekend. The deficit for the 11-month period would have been only $154 billion larger than 2017 had it not been for that.

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 The federal government typically runs a budget surplus in September so the final deficit for 2018 may be somewhat lower than the results through August. CBO said that the total deficit for the year will be close to the $793 billion estimate it made in its analysis of the Trump 2019 budget that it updated last month. That would make the year-over-year increase only 19.3 percent.

But put the number crunching wonkery aside and look at the big picture. Donald Trump, who as a candidate virtually guaranteed he would eliminate not just the budget deficit but the national debt, is doing neither.

It’s anything but fake news to say that just the opposite is true. Trump’s own Office of Management and Budget, whose primary responsibility is to protect the president’s behind on budget issues, agrees with CBO that the deficit will come close to or exceed $1 trillion a year through at least 2022.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t include spending for a space force, an infrastructure plan or a wall between the United States and Mexico. It also doesn’t include the projected $200 billion a year revenue loss from the new GOP tax bill the House will debate before the election or the additional spending that will be needed because of Hurricane Florence. And it certainly doesn’t include the lower revenues and higher spending that will happen if the economy slows below current expectations.

A combination of these things could easily cause the U.S. deficit to approach $2 trillion annually.

The next Trump deficit shoe to drop will occur next week when Trump’s own Treasury issues its own monthly report that is expected to agree with and confirm what CBO said this week.

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy

 

 

 

 

 

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Get Ready: This Fall’s Federal Budget Debate Will Be A Real Cliffhanger

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In alphabetical order…Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Scott Pruitt, Vladimir Putin, Roger Stone and, of course, Donald Trump haven’t just dominated the headlines over the past six months, they’ve sucked the air out of most federal activities.

This is especially true of the federal budget which (it pains me to admit) is absolutely boring compared to all of the salacious, despicable and embarrassing stories with which it has had to compete for attention this year.

That’s about to end. Big time.

No, Manafort et. al. won’t be going away. If the brief history of the Trump presidency is any indication, new investigations, indictments, tweets and aberrant personalities will emerge this fall to supplant those that have already appeared.

But for the first time since this past March, the federal budget is about to return to the big screen in Washington…not as a comedy or action film, but as an old-fashioned cliffhanger.

Last March was when President Trump swore he would shutdown the government if the next funding bill Congress sent him didn’t include billions of dollars for the wall he wants to build between the Unites States and Mexico. He’s since repeated that threat multiple times.

The fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriation he signed in March will expire at midnight September 30. That means the GOP’s House and Senate majorities will soon be facing the implications of Trump’s budget blood oath from almost six months ago.

This is going to be pure melodrama with the fiscal equivalents of villains, damsels in distress tied to the tracks and, perhaps, one or more heroes and heroines.

If you think I’m kidding, watch the cliff hanger movie trailer below and then read the following top ten questions about what is coming over the next six weeks out loud. I’ll bet you can’t help but sound like you’re hyping the next installment.

1.  Will Donald Trump carry out his dastardly plot to shut down the federal government on October 1 if Congress doesn’t provide at least $5 billion for his wall?

2. Will Trump now insist that shutting down the government depends on him also getting funding for his just-proposed but much-ridiculed space force?

3. Will House and Senate Republican leaders try to fool Trump into thinking that the best moment to shut the government will be after the election during the lame duck session of Congress?

4. Will the Congressional Budget Office and Treasury Department reports that will released just weeks before the election that confirm Trump’s big deficits finally force Republicans to face the budget realities they have been so desperate to avoid?

5. Will the confirmed Trump deficits increase the already strong dislike of the GOP tax bill even further just before the midterms?

6. Will congressional Democrats, who were blamed for the last government shutdown, be blamed again?

7. Will congressional Republicans ease the political pain of a shutdown by passing one or more 2019 appropriations so some popular departments and agencies won’t be affected?

8. Will Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney carry out his diabolical plan to lessen the political impact of a shutdown by classifying routine federal functions like national parks as essential government services that must stay open.

9. Does the House’s plan to pass another tax cut, which the Senate has already said it won’t consider, foolishly make a continuing resolution and government shutdown even more likely?

10. Which programs will really be tied to the track as the budget train gets ever closer?

 

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy

Don’t Leave Just Yet…There’s so much more here:

Attention Conservatives: The Deficit Is Not Just A Spending Problem
Trump’s Space Force Is Really A Space Farce
GOP Won’t Be Able To Hide From It’s Big Deficits Before The Election After All
Trump’s Deficits Will Cause Very Serious Challenges For Multiple Generations Of Americans
Here’s What I Told NPR This Morning About The Deficit (Spoiler Alert: It’s Not Pretty)
Trump’s Economic Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics Revealed For All To See
Raising The Chances Of A Government Shutdown This Fall To 60%
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Says CBO Was Right After All

 

Attention Conservatives: The Deficit Is Not Just A Spending Problem

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A little over ten months ago, I appeared on C-SPAN Washington Journal with Romina Boccia from the Heritage Foundation who, as Congress was debating the tax cut that would reduce revenues by $1.5 trillion, had the gall to say repeatedly that the federal deficit was purely a spending problem.

(Assuming you didn’t get up early to see the show that Sunday morning or have already blocked all memory of it, you can grab your popcorn and watch it here.)

Unless you think of mathematics as fake news or garbage science, there are always two ways for the federal government to run a deficit: spend more than it collects each year in revenues or collect less in revenues that it spends. It’s a very basic calculation. No advanced degree is required.

Why raise this now?

First, because the myth coming from Heritage and others that the federal budget deficit is just a spending problem needs to be revealed as often as possible for what it really is: ultra conservative orthodoxy and GOP politics masquerading as unimpeachable basic economics.

Second, an oped by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin in today’s The Washington Post was a great reminder of just how ridiculous and easy it is to disprove the-deficit-is-all-because-of-spending lie.

Rubin, a Democrat who is at least as fiscally conservative as most Republicans claim to be, said:

“Tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product is expected to be 16.5 percent next year. The long-term average in a full-employment economy is 18.5 percent of GDP; if revenue were at that level for the coming decade, debt would be $3.2 trillion lower and the 10-year fiscal gap would be halved.”

In other words, the deficit is at least as much an issue of not enough revenue as it is of too much spending.

And Rubin acknowledged this in his next sentence:

“Returning to past revenue levels, however, will be inadequate over time, because an aging population will increase Medicare and Social Security costs.”

Honest and rational budgeting absolutely requires acknowledging that the federal budget deficit is the result of  both revenues that are too low for the spending Americans want and spending that is higher than the taxes Americans are willing to pay.

It’s not just one or the other and conservatives insisting that it is only spending is both absurd and easily shown to be false.

 

Treasury Confirms Trump’s Huge Budget Deficits Are Real

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The U.S. Treasury reported this afternoon that the budget deficit through the first 10 months of fiscal 2018 was $685 billion, an almost 21 percent increase over the same period last year.

For all of 2018, Treasury is estimating that the deficit will be about $849 billion, 27 percent higher than 2017.

These numbers aren’t a surprise. The combination of lower revenues from the tax cut, higher interest payments on the national debt, increased Pentagon spending and no spending restraint anywhere else made the Trump spike in the budget deficit a certainty.

What is surprising is that no one in the Trump administration — not Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, not National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, not Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett and not Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — have so far even bothered to issue a vanilla statement about the Treasury’s numbers.

Given Trump’s promise during the campaign not just to balance the budget but to pay down the national debt, I would have expected at least a pro forma statement from someone in the administration saying that the deficit increase is terrible and that the government’s red ink will be coming down very soon.

Instead, the White House seems to be ignoring these new numbers in the hope that a Friday-afternoon-in-August-when-Congress-is-in-recess Treasury release will be ignored.

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy

GOP Won’t Be Able To Hide From It’s Big Deficits Before The Election After All

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House and Senate Republicans who so far have successfully avoided talking about how their tax and spending policies are spiking the budget deficit won’t be able to pretend for much longer that the United States isn’t staring directly into a GOP-created fiscal policy abyss.

The U.S. Treasury and the Congressional Budget Office will issue separate reports just weeks before Election Day that show the actual 2018 deficit between $800 and $900 billion and the estimated 2019 deficit exceeding $1 trillion. The fiscal 2017 deficit was $665 billion.

The deficit numbers the GOP had hoped to bury at least until after the election will soon be available for all to see.

House and Senate Republicans so far have been able to avoid talking about the deficit by making a complete mockery of the Congressional Budget Act. Even though Congress is required by federal law to adopt an annual budget resolution (the only legislation all year that compares total revenues with total spending and forces representatives and senators to vote on the deficit), the GOP leadership decided early in 2018 to prevent that from happening.

No budget resolution meant no budget debate. No debate meant no media coverage. No coverage meant Republicans wouldn’t be asked to explain their votes in favor of trillion-dollar deficits when they had previously and emphatically demanded that the federal budget be balanced.

This cleverness will end when Treasury and CBO issue their reports this October in the final days of a fierce election. That will put the GOP’s breach of faith with its fiscal past on full display for all to see, report on, criticize and make snarky 280 character comments about.

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Given the Trump administration’s efforts to control the narrative on all issues and run roughshod over established rules and procedures, and given the president’s more-than-obvious belief that federal departments exist solely to do his bidding, delaying Treasury’s report until after the election would seem like something it would consider.

But while it’s possible that the White House could concoct a reason to order the report be held until after the election, Treasury’s Monthly Treasury Statement is expected, used and relied on by Wall Street. Delaying it for obvious political reasons may be a theoretical option but just isn’t likely.

In addition, the Congressional Budget Office has shown no willingness whatsoever to knuckle under to political pressure and so will almost certainly release its own Monthly Budget Review this October no matter what the Republican leadership demands it to do.

That means that the deficit numbers the GOP had hoped to bury at least until after the election will soon be publicly available.

This timing could not be worse for Republicans. Congress plans to be out of session by the time these two reports are issued so there will be no chance for the GOP incumbents running for reelection even to do something — like voting for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution — before the election.

In addition, on top of all the recent multiple swamp-like events involving Trump former and former allies, this soon-to-be-confirmed break with long-time GOP deficit orthodoxy is almost certain to push a number of more traditional Republicans to reconsider if or how they will vote this November.

Don’t Forget To Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy

Wait…Don’t Leave Just Yet…There’s So Much More:

Trump’s Deficits Will Cause Very Serious Challenges For Multiple Generations Of Americans
Here’s What I Told NPR This Morning About The Deficit (Spoiler Alert: It’s Not Pretty)
Trump’s Economic Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics Revealed For All To See
Ryan And McConnell: Lock’em Up 
This Is Why Trump Will Shut Down The Government
Raising The Chances Of A Government Shutdown This Fall To 60%
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Says CBO Was Right After All
Yes…Trump Will Shut Down The Government This Fall
You’ve Been Warned: Trump’s Trillion Dollar Budget Deficits Are Here To Stay