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Headline Spin
A smaller deficit isn't good; it's only less terrible
July, 2005

CBO: Budget deficit shrinks
Tax receipts higher than expected
WASHINGTON -- July 8, 2005 (AP) -- Higher-than-expected tax receipts and the steadily growing economy have combined to produce an improved picture for the federal budget deficit, congressional analysts say.

All good news, right? Means GW was right all along, and that his fiscal policy is working, right?

Absolutely not.

Consider this metaphor: You're speeding along in a car, headed toward a brick wall. You have your foot to the floor, accelerating madly.

That's what we're doing with the mushrooming National Debt.

Back to the car. You don't slam on the brakes. You don't take your foot off the gas. You only lift your foot a quarter of an inch. Does that save your life? Of course not. You're still speeding toward the wall. You're still accelerating. You're just not accelerating as fast as you were. You're still going to die.

That's what this headline means. We'll hit the wall of financial catastrophe a moment later than we would have without this seeming good news.

Political spin doesn't have to come from a guy in a suit on the evening news. It can be a headline on a press release that determines the tenor of the story's press coverage.

We've come full circle back to where we were nearly twenty years ago, when politicians were constantly talking about shrinking the deficit. It sounds so good. If the deficit is bad, a smaller deficit must be good—no?

No.

The deficit is atrocious. A smaller deficit isn't good—it's only less atrocious. The only good deficit is a dead deficit—as in completely eliminated. When the deficit is completely eliminated and replaced by a surplus, then we can begin talking about good and better.

A surplus will be good. And a bigger surplus will be better.

Don't settle for sweet sounding spin on terrible news.

   

copyright © 2008, J. C. Adamson