Loop fans may recall that back in July we observed that the frenzy over the nation’s deficit and debt had tempered, if not completely dissipated. Turns out we aren’t the only ones who noticed.
Speaking Tuesday at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew remarked that deficit reduction “is not as urgent a priority as it was a few years ago.” And he’s quite pleased about that.
“It’s a good thing for the fiscal debates to take a little bit of a back seat and simmer down,” Lew said, “because emotions were a little bit too high to make the kind of progress that we ultimately need to make in a collaborative, bipartisan way.”
While jobs and the economy are still on voters’ minds (According to a recent Pew Research poll, 81 percent of Republican voters say the budget deficit is “very important“), the debt crisis narrative that defined the 2012 campaign is basically nonexistent on the 2014 campaign trail. And in Congress? We revisited our favorite Sunlight Foundation tool, and, lo and behold, the word “deficit” is hardly ever mentioned any more in Senate and House floor speeches. The drop-off from 2011 — when Republicans took over in the House and the first debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling began — is extraordinary. (Just scroll your mouse over the graph below to see the dates and mentions.)
Before leaving town to campaign, other than some wrangling over immigration and ISIS, Congress passed with little fanfare a bill to keep the government funded through Dec. 11.
Lew, during a Q&A at the Tuesday event, noted that on Oct. 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, there was little, if any, notable conversation about the nation’s deficit or debt.
“It was an undramatic day,” he said. “We didn’t have a discussion about a government shutdown. You didn’t hear concerns about the U.S. defaulting on its debt. We need to have a sustained, long period where we take that drama out of it, because, frankly, it wasn’t good for the U.S. or the global economy.”
And we have enough other drama right now.