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EDITORIAL: With apologies to all those drunken sailors

The Biden budget deficit this fiscal year probably will exceed $1.6 trillion. This from a president who has repeatedly tried to pass himself off as a fiscal hawk. But it could have been worse.

“The deficits projected by the (Congressional Budget Office) were smaller than its forecasts from last June,” The New York Times reports, “as a result of annual spending caps imposed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023.” Translation: Republican control of the House has effectively put a tiny dent in government growth.

Who says fiscal responsibility is dead in Washington? In the current White House, perhaps.

The CBO numbers reveal that the Biden administration’s fiscal record will go down as nothing short of abysmal. Mr. Biden has made $7 trillion COVID-style budgets the new norm. Absent significant reform, the debt as a share of the economy is projected to hit a record high by 2029. Interest payments on the red ink will continue to soar, devouring discretionary spending. Deficits exceeding $2.5 trillion annually won’t be unusual. The next decade will add $19 trillion to the debt.

These recent CBO projections assume reasonable economic growth numbers in coming years. If that fails to materialize — which is highly likely if Democrats succeed in pushing higher taxes and more burdensome regulation — the situation becomes even more dire.

“This is yet another reminder that politicians put political priorities ahead of the long-term health of the country,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said in a statement. “There is no way to look at these eye-popping numbers without realizing we need to make a change.”

The problem is bipartisan. Too many Republicans talk a good game about fiscal sanity but succumb to a Beltway ethos that encourages elected officials to use the Treasury as a slush fund for their re-election efforts. As president, Donald Trump did little to curb spending, and the national debt soared. He has no intention of addressing entitlement spending.

Meanwhile, Mr. Biden hasn’t seen a record spending bill he wouldn’t support. Desperate to boost his sagging re-election chances, the president has been handing out federal largess to a host of favored constituencies, exacerbating the problem. Democrats in the House and Senate are aggressively hostile to any effort to slow the growth of the federal government.

“The longer we wait to address these issues,” writes Veronique de Rugy of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, “the more severe the consequences will be for future generations. It’s time for our leaders to prioritize the nation’s long-term economic health over short-term political gains and take bold steps toward fiscal responsibility.”


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