Focus on Budget and Debt

Focus on Budget and Debt

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On April 28, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave a speech in which he said the federal debt is “the single biggest threat to national security.”

An April 27 Kaiser poll found that strong majorities oppose cutting Social Security, public education, or Medicare to reduce the deficit.

An April 27 Pew poll found increasing concern about the budget deficit, but declining optimism that anything will be done about it.

An April 27 Gallup poll found people roughly split on whether they support Republican or Democratic approaches to dealing with the budget deficit.

An April 26 Rasmussen poll found that only 38 percent of people realize that the purpose of raising the debt limit is to pay for spending that has already been authorized.

On April 25, the chairman of the Treasury Department’s Borrowing Advisory Committee wrote a letter to Secretary Geithner warning of dire consequences should Treasury’s borrowing schedule be disrupted by Congress’s failure to raise the debt limit.

An April 22 New York Times/CBS News poll found that 41 percent of people believe that the Bush administration is mostly to blame for the budget deficit versus 14 percent who mostly blame the Obama administration.

On April 22 the Congressional Budget Office published a report on the impact of automatic stabilizers on the budget. These are tax and spending programs like unemployment insurance that go into effect automatically to counter an economic downturn. It estimates that between 2009 and 2012 automatic stabilizers add $1.3 trillion to the budget deficit.

An April 19 J.P. Morgan report says that even a brief technical default on the debt resulting from failure to raise the debt limit in a timely manner could permanently reduce foreign demand for Treasury securities.

On April 1, political scientists John Mueller and Mark Stewart posted a working paper which estimates that the U.S. has spent $1 trillion on homeland security costs since 9/11.

I last posted items on this topic on April 22.

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He blogs daily and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).


Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.