The deficit for last year was $1.4 trillion. The deficit rose as a share of the gross domestic product from 3.1 percent in 2008 to 9.9 percent in 2009, the highest deficit as a share of GDP since 1945. The projected deficit for the fiscal year that ends in September is another $1.3 trillion.
So much for all that fiscal sanity blather from Team Obama in '08. How dishonest. Even worse, there's a good reason to stay pessimistic about deficits as far as the eye can see. It's called the "news" media.
Legislators who want to get re-elected will clearly want to avoid any spending decision that will create bad national publicity, and our news media, the manufacturers of bad national publicity, will send crying victims down the assembly line at the slightest thought of a social spending cut or freeze.
Exhibit A is Sen. Jim Bunning, a man who is not seeking re-election, which is obvious from his brash, outside-the-Beltway behavior. Bunning pushed the stop button on the perpetual federal spending machine by holding up a $10 billion package to extend (yet again) unemployment benefits and keep cash flowing to the highway trust fund. Mirabile dictu, he insisted that the Congress should find the money to pay for this -- for example, in unspent "stimulus" money -- instead of just adding another multibillion-dollar layer to the deficit lasagna.
Break out the smelling salts. The network nightly news crews tried to manufacture instant outrage, earning their reputation as the enablers of incessant and unrestrained deficit-building.
ABC's Diane Sawyer sent her reporter to expose this mean old man: "One man's stand. A single Senator stops the whole Congress, denying thousands of people unemployment benefits. We confront him to ask why." No spin there. Sawyer framed it as Bunning simply blocking "life support for the unemployed," as if he were standing on someone's oxygen hose.
ABC reporter Jon Karl and his producer physically blocked Bunning's elevator while playing victim's advocate against this alleged victimizer: "We wanted to ask the Senator why he is blocking a vote that would extend unemployment benefits to more than 340,000 Americans, including Brenda Wood, a teacher in Austin, Texas who has been out of work for two years."