Washington’s Fiscal Doomsday Machine
Here’s one that will make your hair stand on end: The US Treasury closed the books on FY 2023, bringing the four-year cumulative deficit to $9.0 trillion!
That’s right. During the last 1,461 days (FY 2020 thru FY 2023), Uncle Sam has generated $6.2 billion of red ink each and every day including weekends, holidays and snow-days. For anyone keeping score at home, that’s $4.2 million of red ink per minute.
For the purpose of perspective, here’s how long it took to generate the first $9 trillion of US government debt: It took all of 43 presidents and 219 years to reach $9 trillion of public debt in July 2007. So the national debt clock has now accelerated to hyper-drive.
Market Value of Public Debt Outstanding, 1940 to July 2007
And, yes, we do mean accelerate. It turns out that when you remove the budgetary Mickey Mouse from the numbers, the federal deficit for FY 2023 clocked in at over $2.0 trillion, or double the comparable level in FY 2022. The reported numbers, of course, do not look quite as alarming, posting at $1.4 trillion last year and $1.7 trillion this year.
But as The Wall Street Journal cogently explained recently, that comparison is very misleading because it includes a $380 billion budgetary shuffle between the two years. It seems that Sleepy Joe’s student debt cancellation got recorded as a cost in September 2022, but then got canceled by the courts in FY 2023, turning it into a giant “savings”!
When the Biden administration announced its plan to forgive federal student debt held by 40 million Americans in September 2022, it logged the long-term cost of the program, $379 billion, on the budget all at once, even though effectively no money was spent on it that year… But in June 2023, the Supreme Court tossed the debt-cancellation program, meaning most of that money wouldn’t actually be spent. Rather than update last year’s deficit numbers, though, the Treasury recorded the changes as a $333 billion spending cut in August 2023.
We do not use the Mickey Mouse epithet lightly, but surely booking the next 50 years of student loan repayments during the single month of August 2023 amounts to exactly that. Still, the “Joe Biden” thing behind the teleprompter has the audacity to keep making the hideous claim that he has been slashing the federal deficit!
Actually, Biden is surrounded by the usual
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