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This Year’s Deficit is a Failure of Leadership, Not a Success

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-The article was originally published at The American Spectator.

Since the 2013 federal deficit was calculated to be a five-year low of $680 billion, many media voices have incorrectly proclaimed victory over deficit concerns, at least in the short run. One of those voices is Eduardo Porter at The New York Times.

Porter’s inaccurate claims are numerous. This post will focus on two. First, how Porter’s argument that austerity measures have been implemented in the United States ignores reality. Second, how his claim that “austerity shrinks the economy in the short term, often more than it shrinks the burden of public debt” ignores the long-term benefits of budget cuts.

First, there has been no austerity in America. The federal budget has gone up by almost $800 billion from fiscal year 2007 (the year before the recession started) through fiscal year 2013. It has gone down since 2009, but only by approximately $30 billion. A $30 billion cut—largely because of lower spending on unemployment benefits and war, as the economy has improved and the U.S. has transitioned out of Iraq and Afghanistan—is hardly “austerity.”

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