How to Cut One Trillion from the U.S. Budget Deficit

Things aren’t going well for President Joe Biden. He’s pretty obviously grasping for straws at this point in trying to present any kind of positive news. But did you catch this gem about cutting the budget deficit from the President’s 2022 State of the Union Address?

“By the end of this year, the deficit will be down to less than half what it was before I took office. The only president ever to cut the deficit by more than one trillion dollars in a single year.” Biden proclaimed. Let’s rephrase that claim like the joke it really is: “What’s the fastest way to cut the U.S. government’s deficit by one trillion dollars? Start with a budget deficit of two trillion!”

The editors of the Wall Street Journal weren’t impressed with this claim either. In a recent editorial, they point out that in order to succeed in cutting the deficit by $1 trillion, President Biden needs his biggest spending initiatives to fail.

This assumes Congress doesn’t enact his Build Back Better plan or the more Covid relief he’s asking for.

He’s also using the fiscal 2020 budget as his benchmark. Congress passed $2 trillion in Covid relief in March 2020 to prevent a recession. Both parties piled on $900 billion more that December, and Democrats in March 2021 ladled out nearly $2 trillion more. The deficit is declining because Congress blew it out for two years.

Revenues have been surging thanks to strong corporate profits, capital gains, and rising nominal incomes. Inflation is always good for government coffers. Receipts are up 28% during the first four months of this fiscal year. But the Congressional Budget Office still projects deficits to exceed $1 trillion on average over the next decade.

Do you see how getting President Biden’s deficit-cutting boast to hold true leads to the joke? 

While the WSJ’s editors called it a “budget whopper”, what if we could transform President Biden’s boast from a shabby lie into the truth?

Americans should be happy to accommodate President Biden’s need to succeed at something during his presidency. We should help him achieve his stated deficit-cutting goal. Especially if it means letting all his other excessive spending ambitions fail. After all, we know from his own words that he’s counting on it.

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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