Its curious how Republicans havent talked much about the federal deficit lately. They had plenty to say not long ago: The Affordable Care Act was going to send the deficit skyward; President Obamas lousy management of the economy would surely mean trillions in debt for our childrens childrens children; the stimulus packages of the Obama administration would be Americas ruination.
A funny thing happened on the way to disaster. The Treasury Department reports that the deficit fell more sharply in the ending fiscal year than in any year since World War II ended. For 2013, the figure was $680 billion; in 2012 it was $1.1 trillion. Its the smallest number since the Great Recession era of 2008. During the peak of the recession, the deficit amounted to a frightening percentage of the nations economy: 10 percent. Now its 4.1 percent, The New York Times reports.
Yes, most of the drop is related to better tax revenue, but tax increases and government cuts played a part, as did slower growth in health care spending. Thats right, slower growth.
Just think how the decrease might have been even steeper if Republicans in Congress hadnt insisted on a budget compromise that boosted the top tax rate after the ill-conceived Bush tax cuts only on those making $400,000 a year or more instead of the $200,000 figure the president wanted. And Republicans have the nerve to complain the deficit is still too high?
At long last, the number is headed in the right direction, and the signs on health spending are promising indeed. Obamas Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew rightly gave his boss some credit, saying, The United States has recovered faster than any other advanced economy, and our deficit today is less than half of what it was when President Obama first took office.
The figures speak truth. And they speak of an administration that, up against harsh partisanship and a GOP leadership interested primarily in improving the fortunes of the wealthy, has done the right things to put Americas financial house back on a firm foundation.