Nick Timiraos’ recent article in the Wall Street Journal ( Donald Trump’s Spending Push Rankles Fiscal Conservatives, 11/28/16) , is rather disingenuous with his so-called analysis of Trump’s fiscal roadmap. He clearly aims to torpedo Trump’s plan to cut taxes by tying the discussion to deficits — though correlation, of course, does not necessarily mean causation. Timiraos’ analysis is full of half-truths, but it is not entirely certain if that is willfully written or just plain economic ignorance.
First, Timiraos suggests that budget deficits “fell from 2010” but “are on track to climb in the next decade,” yet doesn’t even give any hard data to back that up — because their really isn’t any. A deficit is still a deficit. Going from a $1.4 trillion budget deficit, as Obama had in 2009, down to a $600 billion deficit in 2016, is still a massive deficit. And of course, Timiraos also doesn’t even mention that the “the total national debt nearly doubled to $19.3 trillion from $10.6 trillion when Obama took office.” Those two data points indicate an enormous spending problem on the part of Obama, something Timiraos totally ignores.
Timiraos then has the audacity to try to link rising deficits to tax cuts by Republicans. Timiraos writes, “the last two times Republicans reclaimed the White House from Democrats—in 1981 and 2001—they also successfully pushed for large tax cuts. Deficits nonetheless rose during their administrations.” Again, another instance of Timiraos telling only part of the story. Both tax cuts resulted in huge revenue increases, but it was even greater spending that created larger deficits. The tax cuts were not the problem; the deficits were not caused by a lack of revenue. Even Republicans can overspend.
Once more, near the end of the article, Timiraos tries again to make Obama’s economics to be the pinnacle of fiscal responsibility, when he writes, “Concerns about deficits over the past few years have faded because economic growth remains disappointing and because Washington took several steps to cut spending and increase taxes after deficits jumped in 2009. Deficits have also fallen below projections in recent years due to a surprising decline in the growth rate of health care spending and because interest rates have been lower than projected.” Only the Democrats are unconcerned about deficits — because their deficit spending is so astronomical, it’s better not to talk about it at all! Suggesting that Obama “cut spending and increased taxes” and that “Deficits have also fallen below projections in recent years” again ignores Obama still spent $600 billion – $1.4 trillion more than his revenue receipts were. When deficits are projected to be $1 trillion, and the actual deficit comes in a bit lower than that (but still in the hundreds of billions), you still have a deficit problem! Timiraos also ignores the fact that Obama regularly had record tax receipts each month (noted on this blog numerous times), and yet Obama still could not control his overspending.
To ignore this economic reality of the past eight years, and the simultaneously try to suggest that a tax plan with tax cuts will alarmingly increase the deficit is reckless. Timiraos ought to be ashamed at such blatant hypocrisy.