From Ezra Klein, the Wash Post’s outstanding policy wonk:
“If you’re a deficit hawk, today’s Wonkbook won’t be easy reading for you. We lead with the tax vote, of course. The $858 billion package does more damage to the deficit than anything other piece of legislation passed during the Obama presidency. It’s also expected to receive the largest bipartisan majority of any major piece of legislation the Senate has considered in the last two years.”
You’re right, Ezra. Us deficit hawks got rolled on this one. But when don’t we?
I’m certainly familiar with, even have sympathy for, the argument that in a bad economy deficit reduction has to take a back seat to stimulus. And it’s true, too, that an improving economy is the best possible weapon against the deficit. But over time, the stimuli never quite get the deficit (let alone the debt) heading down. It’s easy to say that now is not the time for the sour medicine — spending cuts and tax increases — that are necessary to get the U.S. fiscal picture out of the “unsustainable” category. But a review of recent history suggests that the time for candy is always. The time for the tough medicine is never.
Next year, or the year after, or the year after that, please prove me wrong.