"The Truth About the Deficit" (NY Times editorials bring teh funny)

Who knew that the lead editorials in the New York Times could be so funny?

The “Massachusetts” editorial, where the New York Times reasoned that the Massachusetts election result was “not remotely” about Obama, had its laughs.

Here’s how the New York Times summarizes today’s lead editorial, “The Truth About the Deficit”:

Though the governement will soon need to address the deficit, the last thing it should do is slash spending at a time of high unemployment and fragile growth.

The government will “soon” need to address the deficit? Soon? How soon? How about forty years ago?

The “last thing” it should do is to slash spending? Really, New York Times? The LAST thing? When you have no money, the LAST THING you should do is to stop spending on your credit cards? Does that make sense to any household? The FIRST THING anyone with any brain would do (stop spending money you don’t have) becomes the LAST THING?

Who’s to blame for this mess? Who? Who? Can we think of somebody?

The deficit numbers — a projected $1.3 trillion in fiscal 2011 alone — are breathtaking. What is even more breathtaking is the Republicans’ cynical refusal to acknowledge that the country would never have gotten into so deep a hole if President George W. Bush and the Republican-led Congress had not spent years slashing taxes — mainly on the wealthy — and spending with far too little restraint.

Blame George Bush! Of course! What a refreshing new idea!

But the cold economic truth is this: At a time of high unemployment and fragile growth, the last thing the government should do is to slash spending. That will only drive the economy into deeper trouble.

More reckless government spending! All aboard the wine train!

HOW DID WE GET HERE? When President Bush took office in 2001, the federal budget had been in the black for three years, and continued surpluses were projected for a decade to come.

By the time Mr. Bush left office in early 2009, the government had run big deficits for seven straight years, and the economy was on the brink of another Great Depression

Let’s blame Bush again!

Of course, America was attacked during the Bush years, and he was fighting two wars, and since 2006 we’ve been in the Pelosi era (Hint to NYT: She’s a Democrat). The economy and the spending improved under Pelosi, no?

To avoid a meltdown, the government — under President Bush and President Obama — rightly decided it had no choice but to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out banks and car companies and to stimulate the economy.

I don’t remember President Bush saying that TARP could be used to bail out car companies. And TARP has been a big failure–just ask TARP Special Inspector Neil Borofsky.

Politicians need to pass health care reform now and start thinking seriously about Social Security and tax reform.

Nothing says “fiscal sanity” like the presently drafted health care bill. Too funny.

The first lesson is that spending without taxing is a recipe for huge deficits, and that running big deficits when the economy is expanding only sets the country up for bigger deficits when the economy contracts. The second lesson is that once a deep recession takes hold, slashing government spending is not going to solve the problem. It will only make it worse.

The first lesson is that we don’t tax enough? The second lesson is not to cut government spending when you’re broke?

WHAT CAN BE DONE NOW? Here is an unpopular but undeniable fact of life: When private sector demand is weak, the federal government must serve as the spender of last resort.

No! The proper thing to do is to let weak companies die, to let bad properties sell at a discount, and to let the situation right itself.

But today’s deficit fearmongers invariably fail to note that the impact of stimulus spending on the long-term fiscal problem is small, because the spending is temporary.

The $800+ billion stimulus wasn’t big enough?

SO HOW DO WE FIX IT? Mr. Obama’s budget makes a down payment on deficit reduction by freezing some nonsecurity discretionary spending for three years, and by letting the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans expire at the end of this year.

To truly tame deficits will require serious health care reform, the sooner the better.

If we only taxed the rich more and had a health care system like the British, we’d have balanced budgets?

We hope that health care reform will move ahead before that. If it does, the commission will still have to press for new taxes that both raise revenue and broaden the tax base, including a value added tax.

A value added tax! Joy to the world!

HotAir has a similarly titled piece: “It’s time to tell the truth about the deficit, Mr. President”, linking to Evan Thomas of Newsweek.

Another option: the government can dramatically raise taxes—and thus truly stifle economic growth. Or—better idea! —the federal government can start now, through a prudent mixture of spending cuts and tax hikes, to get control of its financial future and avoid, or at least mitigate, a dreary fate of high inflation and/or high-taxation stagnation.

Spending cuts? Isn’t that the LAST THING we should do?