The Devil is in the Deficit: καὶ ὁ ἀριθμὸς αὐτοῦ ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ

From The Wall Street Journal:

U.S. Ran $666 Billion Deficit In Fiscal 2017, Sixth Highest on Record

U.S. revenue and spending both hit record highs in fiscal 2017, according to department

By Kate Davidson | Updated October 20, 2017 | 2:54 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The federal budget deficit widened in fiscal year 2017 to the sixth highest deficit on record as government spending growth outpaced growth in tax collections for the second year in a row, the Treasury Department said Thursday.

The budget shortfall rose to $666 billion in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, up $80 billion, or 14%, from fiscal year 2016. That tracks with an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, which had predicted a $668 billion deficit for the last fiscal year.

Federal tax receipts reached a record high in fiscal year 2017, at $3.3 trillion, thanks to slightly faster growth, according to a senior Treasury official. But government outlays also hit a record high last year at nearly $4 trillion, 3% higher than they were in the previous fiscal year, thanks to increased spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as higher interest payments on the public debt.

As a percentage of gross domestic product, the deficit totaled 3.5%, up from 3.2% in fiscal year 2016.

“Today’s budget results underscore the importance of achieving robust and sustained economic growth,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement accompanying the report. “Through a combination of tax reform and regulatory relief, this country can return to higher levels of GDP growth, helping to erase our fiscal deficit.”

How appropriate: the number of the beast is 666. καὶ ἵνα μή τις δύνηται ἀγοράσαι ἢ πωλῆσαι εἰ μὴ ὁ ἔχων τὸ χάραγμα, τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θηρίου ἢ τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ. ὧδε ἡ σοφία ἐστίν· ὁ ἔχων νοῦν ψηφισάτω τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ θηρίου, ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν· καὶ ὁ ἀριθμὸς αὐτοῦ ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ. (Revelation 13:17-18)

The number is just a coincidence, of course, not far off from what the government had estimated it would be, but this coincidence should focus our minds on the problem of the deficit. Some will want to lay this at the feet of President Obama, but President Trump, for most of the fiscal year, and the Republicans who control Congress are just as much to blame. Worse, the tax cut plan being pushed by the GOP will increase the deficit, not pare it back.

I have said it before: yes, I want tax cuts, but I want spending cuts first. No, not promises of spending cuts once tax cuts have been passed; we’ve gone down that road before, and spending never gets cut. We need to cut spending, and that means real cuts, not just slowing down the rate of spending increases, spending cuts that will actually hurt real people; if we are not willing to hurt real people, we will never, ever get spending under control.

One Comment

  1. Deficits don’t seem to matter, at least as far as the economy goes, the stock market, or things that affect one individually, like interest rates.

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