All is quiet on the federal deficit front — or so many in Washington would like to pretend.
Exhausted by the past couple of years of political trench warfare over a “grand bargain,” congressional Republicans and Democrats are doing nothing to end the across-the-board cuts to discretionary programs, known as sequestration, or to address the nation’s long-term fiscal predicament. Republicans refuse to entertain a deal that might raise revenue.
Democrats argue, variously, that deficit-fighting is a false flag for cruel “austerity” or that federal borrowing has already come down enough due to previous policy changes and a few lucky breaks. The forces of complacency may find more ammunition in the Obama White House’s most recent fiscal update. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that the federal deficit will be $759 billion in the year ending Sept. 30, or 4.7 percent of gross domestic product — rather than $973 billion and 6 percent of GDP, as it calculated in April.
We hope President Obama, who has been conspicuously silent about fiscal matters since dining with potential Republican Senate negotiation partners in April, does not take the OMB numbers as cause to write off this issue.