Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Balancing Act

According to Lori Montgomery in the Washington Post, letting the Bush tax cuts lapse at the end of the year would bring us closer to a balanced budget in five years.

Official and independent budget estimates show that letting tax rates spring back to pre-Bush levels for all taxpayers would bring the country within striking distance of meeting President Obama’s goal of balancing the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015.

“If we actually ended the Bush-era tax cuts, that would pretty much do it,” Obama’s recently departed budget director, Peter Orszag, said in an interview last week with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “If you do a bit on the spending side and then end the tax cuts, you pretty much get there.”

But for all the election-year hand-wringing about deficits, no one in Washington is talking about letting the tax cuts lapse on schedule in January. Instead, Senate Republicans have offered a measure that would extend all the cuts, adding nearly $4 trillion to the debt over the next decade. This week, Senate Democrats say they plan to unveil a bill that would preserve most of the cuts for most Americans. That would add nearly $2 trillion to deficits by 2020.

So there you have the choice: fiscal responsibility or political capital. You make the call.