It seems that everyone in Washington believes that there is zero chance of any kind of economic calamity befalling this nation until January 2013, even though the government is on track to stay on self-destructive autopilot until then. I do not understand how or why anyone can be that confident.
Jim Kuhnhenn at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, almost gleefully participated in that denial on Thursday in presenting the following paragraphs (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Beginning in 2013, the federal government faces two oncoming trains. When the supercommittee was unable to find agreement by Wednesday, it triggered spending cuts of $1.2 trillion starting in January 2013 and extending over 10 years. Half of the cuts would come from defense spending, the other from education, agriculture and environmental programs, and, to a lesser extent, Medicare.
At the same time, tax cuts adopted during the presidency of George W. Bush will expire at the end of 2012, meaning an increase for every taxpayer.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would "tear a seam in the nation's defense."
Meanwhile, the tax increases would hit a still-fragile economy, endangering a recovery and raising prospects of another recession.
Kuhnhenn pretends that the two jumbo-sized locomotives which are chugging merrily along and continually building up steam right now, namely the national debt and the nation's budget deficit, aren't even there. The word "debt" appears only once in his report, but only in reference to the "debt crisis this summer" without saying how big the debt is. While the word "deficit" frequently appears, the AP reporter never tells readers what Uncle Sam's reported deficits have been ($4 trillion during the last three fiscal years) or what they're projected to be, according to the Congressional Budget Office (Page XI at link; $973 billion in fiscal 2012, and a combined $3.7 trillion -- in my view, a very unrealistically low figure -- in the nine years which follow).
The national debt train is over $15 trillion and has been growing at a rate of at least $1.5 trillion per year. As noted, the CBO projects that the deficit train will accumulate $4.7 trillion in shortfalls over the next ten years.
But Kuhnhenn, like almost everyone else in Washington, appears to only want to talk about politics, coming down on the side of effectively complimenting President Obama for his noninvolvement. Really:
While Republicans have criticized Obama for not engaging directly in the supercommittee negotiations, his hands-off approach was calculated, coming in the aftermath of his own failed attempts to strike a deficit deal with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. In a gridlocked Congress, Obama is more likely to lose if he gets deeply involved.
The detachment allows him to set a clear dividing line for voters, one in which he can cast Republicans as protecting the rich. It's a stance that for now has political appeal. A number of recent public opinion polls show that up to two-thirds of Americans support raising taxes on individuals earning more than $1 million, and about half favor raising taxes on families earning at least $250,000 a year.
Even if some Republicans were disposed to negotiate a new deficit-reduction plan, Obama's sharpening of the lines between the parties could drive them away.
"If the president has decided that he is now in full campaign mode, that's going to make things very difficult in terms of finding common ground," said David Winston, a GOP strategist who advises House Republican leaders.
As I've noted and others have stated, the president and his team are deliberately endangering the country's ability to survive its next 14 months solely in the name of achieving his reelection. That's the real news, Jim -- and shame on you for trying to make the unacceptable palatable by pretending we're not in trouble in the here and now.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.