Like Abe Vigoda, Budget Deficits Will Be Around Forever

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Aides build a fort out of the budget.Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

As he unveiled his $3.8 trillion budget this morning, one that includes a record deficit of about $1.6 trillion, President Obama made it clear that he was committed to reducing the deficit, someday.

“We simply cannot continue to spend as if deficits don’t have consequences, as if waste doesn’t matter, as if the hard-earned tax money of the American people can be treated like monopoly money,” Mr. Obama said at the White House.


True! But now is not a good time. The economy is still crappy and fixing it costs money; we're still fighting two wars and winning them costs money. But soon enough, we will get this deficit beast under control, right? Errr ... :


Not until 2014 to 2015 — midway through what Obama hopes will be his second term — is there any chance of approaching a sustainable budget. Even then the president admits he will need the help of a bipartisan fiscal commission willing to tackle long range issues like Social Security reform.


Oh, good, Congress. They're excellent at solving long-term problems. But let's say they can respond to the call of duty this one time. At least after 2015 we'll be back to balanced budgets, finally. Right? Quoth the Times:

If a bipartisan commission were to produce, and Congress accept, a plan that would balance all spending by 2015 except for interest on the debt, that still would leave that year’s deficit at 3 percent of gross domestic product — reflecting the ballooning cost of financing growing government debt.


Oh, right, paying off the debt. Damn it. What'll that take, though, a couple of years?

And by the end of the decade, projections show the annual deficit ticking upwards again, to 4.2 percent of G.D.P. in 2020, as growing health costs and an increasingly older population force up spending for Medicare and Medicaid benefits.


Health-care costs are going to imperil our future financial stability? Somebody should look into taking care of that.

In $3.8 Trillion Budget, Obama Pivots to Trim Future Deficits [NYT]
Five years, $5.08 trillion in debt [Politico]