By Terry Coxon, Casey Research
Decades of manipulation by the Federal Reserve (through its creation of paper money) and by Congress (through its taxing and spending) have pushed the US economy into a circumstance that can't be sustained but from which there is no graceful exit.
With few exceptions, all of the noble souls who chose a career in "public service" and who've advanced to be voting members of Congress are committed to chronic deficits, though they deny it. For political purposes, deficits work. The people whose wishes come true through the spending side of the deficit are happy and vote to reelect. The people on the borrowing side of the deficit aren't complaining, since they willingly buy the Treasury bonds and Treasury bills that fund the deficit. And taxpayers generally tolerate deficits as a lesser evil than a tax hike.
Deficits are politically convenient for a second reason. They can take a little of the sting out of a recession. That effect is transient, and it's not strong – more like weak tea than Red Bull. But it can be enough to help a struggling politician get past the next election.
Yes, sometimes there's a big turnover in the personnel, such as with the 2010 election, when a platoon of self-styled anti-deficit commandoes parachuted into Congress. As soon as they had taken their seats, they began offering proposals to deal with the government's trillion-dollar revenue shortfall. But none of the proposals were serious. They were merely tokens intended to make politicians wearing anti-deficit uniforms look less ridiculous. Cut a ginormous $2 billion out of this program and a great big $500 million out of that program. Reduce spending by half a trillion dollars... over ten years. Balance the budget to the penny, but later. No one proposed anything close to dealing with the deficit now.
So stay up as late as you like on election night to see who wins, but the deficits aren't going to stop anytime soon. The debt mountain will keep growing. The part of it the government acknowledges is now approaching $16 trillion, which is more than the country's gross domestic product for a year. Obviously, the debt can't keep growing faster than the economy forever, but the people in charge do seem determined to find out just how far they can push things. Continue reading "How Far to the Wall?"