Fact Checker: Reducing deficit

February 12, 2013


“Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion – mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. As a result, we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.”

This is a debatable, depending on how you do the numbers. Many budget analysts do measure the decline in deficits from August 2010 — which was a high point for spending — and Obama’s figure is derived from that date. (He also adds in interest savings from reducing anticipated debts, which is different than actually cutting spending or adding revenue.)

But agreement starts to break down quickly about the $4 trillion goal, which translates to just $1.5 trillion in additional work. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, in a recent report, argued that $2.7 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years has been enacted so far, including tax increases, but that another $2.4 trillion was needed to reduce ratio of debt-to-gross-domestic-product to 70 percent. The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues instead that $1.5 trillion is needed to achieve a 73-percent ratio. Those numbers could have real world consequences for government programs.

Glenn Kessler has reported on domestic and foreign policy for more than three decades. He would like your help in keeping an eye on public figures. Send him statements to fact check by emailing him, tweeting at him, or sending him a message on Facebook.
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