October 27, 2021

From Roll Call:

Surging tax revenues as the U.S. economy rebounded from the coronavirus-driven downturn helped reduce the budget deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the Treasury Department and White House budget office announced Friday.

The fiscal 2021 deficit clocked in at a still-massive $2.8 trillion, although that’s down $360 billion from the previous year’s shortfall and it’s $897 billion less than the Biden administration predicted in February.

As Steve Benen pointed out, this is what we have come to expect under a Democratic presidency, even as Republicans posture as deficit hawks:

It starts with a Republican presidential candidate denouncing the deficit and vowing to balance the budget if elected. That Republican then takes office, abandons interest in the issue, and expresses indifference when the deficit becomes vastly larger. Then a Democrat takes office, at which point GOP lawmakers who didn't care at all about the deficit suddenly decide it's a critical issue that the new center-left president must immediately prioritize.

During the Democratic administration, the deficit invariably shrinks — a development Republicans tend to ignore — at which point the entire cycle starts over with a new round of national GOP candidates denouncing the deficit and vowing to balance the budget if elected.

Sure enough, Donald Trump ran for office decrying and promising to eliminate the debt – only to let it balloon once he got his foot in the door of the White House. The Balance notes that the deficit jumped 36% to a new high under Trump, the fastest increase in the debt of any president. There were “multiple culprits,” The Washington Post reported, but pointed to the Trump tax cuts, “especially the sharp reduction in the corporate tax rate” as one of the bigger ones.

Now we have the Biden economy doing what Trump had promised, but without having reversed any of the Trump tax cuts (yet). Just think how much better off our national finances could be if at least certain Democrats (cough, Sens. Manchin and Sinema, cough) would acknowledge that and help the president take the obvious next steps.

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