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The past, present and future of the deficit

By Ezra Klein,

The Economic Policy Institute is out with a graph breaking the 2012 deficit into its component parts:

The takeaway is that absent the financial crisis and the aftereffects and continuation of George W. Bush-era policies, deficits would be quite manageable in 2012. And note that this isn’t a conclusion unique to EPI. You can see it in Pew’s graph, which showed the policy and economic changes that turned our projected surpluses into unending deficits:

And you can see it in this graph, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which looked at the contributions recent policy changes have made to our coming deficits:

The takeaway? They’re all quite similar. Absent the financial crisis, the wars and the tax cuts, we’d be in pretty good fiscal shape right now. Which suggests that it’s probably not a great idea to be defunding our financial regulators and refusing to consider a return to Clinton-era tax rates.

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