The Horror of the CBO's 2010 Economic Report

More

The president's plan to freeze non-military discretionary spending isn't good. The new projections for this year's economy from the CBO are much worse. They project a $1.3 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2010, the second largest as a share of GDP since WWII. They project unemployment over 10 percent until mid-year, and still in the high 9s when the spending freeze bites.

In short, we're trapped.


Unemployment is so high that it's costing us billions in government revenues, but the instinct to rein in spending could potentially cost even more. Obama wants to demonstrate -- to voters, to moderate Republicans, to international investors -- that he's serious about tackling the deficit. Ironically, the way he's chosen to do that is by freezing all spending except the parts that impact security and entitlements. But the main drivers of our deficit are, well, military spending and entitlements. He's demonstrating his dragon-slaying potential by fighting a dragonfly.

A spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner likened the freeze to "announcing you're going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest." Well, that doesn't make a lot of sense. If you're a fat person who's just won a pie-eating contest, you should start dieting eventually! No, this freeze is more like a pie-eating champion announcing that his weight-loss plan is to stop drinking cafe lattes. The gesture is only marginally related to his weight gain (he's a pie-eating champ, after all), and it might even backfire by making him more sluggish.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In