Deficit Spending

There have been stories the last few days on Obama's commission to reduce the deficit.  Of course, this is to reduce the deficit, not the debt.  It is like running up $10,000 a year in credit card debt and saying that you are cutting back next year and you will only run up $5,000 in credit card debt without paying it off.  The balance that you owe actually increases, even though you say that you are cutting your spending.

The federal debt is nearing 14 trillion dollars.  The yearly deficit is well over 1 trillion dollars.  If Obama could cut the deficit to 500 billion dollars, he could say that he cut the deficit by more than half.  The problem is, the national debt keeps getting bigger and bigger.  This was the same game that Bush played while he was in office (although the numbers were a bit smaller).  Bush promised to reduce the deficit in half by 2008.  That was in his first term.  He left office having signed the TARP bill, the biggest bailout in history.

The only way Obama is going to reduce the deficit with any significance, let alone the debt, is if the government goes completely broke and the Fed refuses to print more money because of the threat of hyperinflation.  Only then will Obama have a chance at getting anywhere near a balanced budget.  And technically speaking, the budgets do come from Congress, so it isn't even up to Obama completely, although he could certainly have influence.

Even if the Republicans win big next week, don't expect much to change.  Most of the Republican politicians have vowed not to touch Social Security or Medicare.  Of course, they wouldn't dare touch their precious wars or any part of foreign or military expenditures.  They could eliminate the entire rest of the budget and that would barely balance the budget.  In other words, expect massive deficit spending until the Fed refuses to inflate and interest rates rise.  Then we will see something out of Greece where the politicians will have no choice but to cut spending.

Obama's deficit commission is going to recommend tax increases.  It is easier for them to do that than to recommend any serious cuts.  They are going to recommend getting rid of certain deductions and tax credits.  This is a tax increase.  Let's see if the Tea Party and the rest of the American people resist.  In order to resist successfully, they must advocate spending cuts.  It can't be little things, although that would help.  We have to see massive cuts to military spending and a reduction in entitlement benefits.  The easiest reduction there would be is to raise the age that you can collect Social Security and enroll in Medicare.

I don't know if the Tea Party and the rest of the American people have it in them yet.  We need massive spending cuts.  It will be painful, but not as painful as what hyperinflation would feel like.