CBO drops reality bomb

There’s an old parenting adage: When otherwise rambunctious children suddenly become quiet, better pay attention.

That’s good political advice, too.

When normally loquacious politicians are not talking about something, better pay attention.

And the one thing no one is talking about in this election year is the nation’s spending habit.

Until Jan. 28.

Into the middle of the 2020 campaign, with both parties laying out agendas and making promises that in effect buy votes, the Congressional Budget Office just dropped a reality bomb.

The deficit this year is projected to top $1 trillion, according to the CBO report; the country will take in a little more than $3.6 billion from taxes and other sources, and spend more than $4.6 billion.

Over the next decade, the deficit is projected to average $1.3 trillion a year, or more than $13 trillion.

This isn’t the first time the deficit has pushed over a trillion dollars — it last happened in 2009-12 — but there are some worrisome new trends this time around.

• Those deficits a decade ago were reined in, whereas deficits of $1 trillion and more are likely the new norm, and no longer just an aberration or an economic stimulus, according to experts.

• This deficit is occurring amid a robust economy; traditionally, deficits contract when the economy grows.

“The alarming budget outlook during a period of sustained economic growth and low unemployment reflects the continuing failure of elected officials in Washington to acknowledge that the federal budget is on a perilous path, much less do anything about it,” Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, said in a statement. “At a time when we should be seeing budget deficits shrink, they are projected to average over $1.3 trillion annually for the next decade.”

It took all of us — left, right and everyone in between — to get to this point, and by that we mean we are all on the receiving end of a government that continues spending an unfathomable amount of money beyond what it is taking in.

It is going to take all of us to claw our way back to normalcy.

And that, no one wants to do.

Or even talk about.

* Guest editorial from The Joplin Globe in Joplin, Mo.


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