Sunday, February 7, 2016

Fiscal Gloom & Doom

Monday's Wall Street Journal offers a glimpse into the fiscal abyss a bunch of economists say we all face; maybe the end is near.

Fiscal Gloom & Doom


If you're looking to start your week on an upbeat note, it's probably best you don't read Monday's Wall Street Journal.

There a long piece by a bunch of economists who served in government and now are fellows at Stanford University's Hoover Institute -- including former U.S. Treasury Secretary George P. Schultz -- that offers up economic numbers to curdle the milk of almost optimist.

Titled, "The Magnitude of the Mess We're In," the piece notes annual spending by the U.S. government now exceeds what spending was just five years ago by nearly $1 trillion dollars.

It notes that U.S. debt because of this spending has increased to a level that amounts to $55,000 in borrowing for each American household.

It suggests federal spending isn't always done wisely, noting that there are 46 federal job training programs and that a 47th was added for green jobs that had such low levels of success that the Labor Department's inspector general advised shuttting it down.

Without mentioning the presidential race, Romney or Obama, it says while it might be tempting to attack this problem by taxing upper-income brackets at higher rates that the top 1% of earners pay 37% of all income taxes while half of Americans pay nothing.

And it concludes:

"The fixes are blindingly obvious. Economic theory, empirical studies and historical experience teach that the solutions are the lowest possible tax rates on the broadest base, sufficient to fund the necessary functions of government on balance over the business cycle; sound monetary policy; trade liberalization; spending control and entitlement reform; and regulatory, litigation and education reform. The need is clear. Why wait for disaster? The future is now."

The piece could serve as the basis for a Romney message on the economy that so far seems lacking; and it could, potentially, lead to an actual and factual debate on the economic future of the country.

In that sense, it's an important contribution. Just don't expect it to cheer you up.


Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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