Thursday, May 16, 2013


Media push for deficit reduction as revenues peak, deficit dives

by Larry Geller

Washington and commercial media still want to cut Social Security and shred the social safety net even though, in the month of April, the federal government reported its highest budget surplus in five years.

The United States posted its biggest monthly budget surplus in five years in April, the Treasury Department said on Friday, adding that revenues are running at a record high so far this year thanks to higher taxes and an improving economy.

[Reuters, April budget surplus is biggest in five years, 5/10/2013]

According to the article, the Treasury reported last month’s surplus as $113 billion, the highest since April 2008. But this surplus is not something new—the surplus in April 2012 was $59 billion.

In other words, as Republicans and President Obama seek to slash funding for programs affecting the most vulnerable, the deficit is diminishing without those draconian austerity measures. In fact, Reuters reports that the deficit decreased 32% from the corresponding period last year. The same article reports that tax revenues, $1.6 trillion this year, are a record 16 percent higher than last year.

This is precisely the time when government should be investing in job growth, not “sequestration” and other severe austerity measures that will take wages and money out of the economy. Investing in job growth now should yield even higher revenues in the future and further reduction in deficits.

Conservatives and the conservative news media haven’t noticed this, however, and have maintained a drumbeat for austerity. “Sequestration,” which was supposed to be so bad that it would never happen, fits their program perfectly. If Obama offers additional cuts, including reductions in social benefit programs that have nothing to do with the deficit in the first place, the combined effect would push towards recession and increased deficits, not deficit reduction.

But then, when conservative media talk about deficit reduction, what do they really mean? Romney got caught explaining his thinking in a smartphone video, so we should not be surprised to learn that the agenda hasn’t changed, just the words used to further it. The argument de jour is deficit reduction, but the menu hasn’t really changed in a decade at least.

"While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling." - Sen. Bernie Sanders


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