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Ezra Klein of Wonkblog (the best digital section of the Washington Post) just sent out a bunch of tweets that might be described as “9 inconvenient truths about the deficit.”Mostly, the tweets concern the religious status that discussions about the deficit have attained in this country–in which any proposal that is packaged as a deficit-reduction proposal is given a free pass from analysis, despite the fact that many of them are idiotic. (And, worse, may actually increase the deficit).
Klein is perceived as “left-wing,” so his tweets will no doubt be instantly dismissed as partisan lobbying.
But they’re true:
1. A few thoughts on deficits, inspired by
@neil_irwin‘s post on Krugman vs. @JoeNBC: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/31/joe-scarborough-paul-krugman-and-the-economist-pundit-divide-on-debt-and-deficits/ …
2. Claims about deficits in Washington — so long as they’re pro-deficit reduction — get much less scrutiny than claims about other issues
3. For instance, reporters are allowed to root openly for deficit reduction in a way they can’t for, say, universal health care.
4. Policies promoted under the guise of deficit reduction get less scrutiny than those same policies proposed on their own.
5. The biggest problem with the budget debate is people treat deficits as a moral question rather than an economic one.
6. Japan and Britain’s low borrowing costs, nonexistent bond crises and rising debt-to-GDP are important context for this discussion.
7. There are few examples of a country getting debt-to-GDP down without getting growth up. Growth is always key.
8. Long-term deficits do matter, in large part for risk aversion and policy smoothing reasons. But they’re not near our main threat
9. Manipulating a spreadsheet, which is how most budget proposals work, does not solve our debt problem, which is a health reform problem