The Congressional Budget Office tallied the country's debts and the number for 2011, is, to put it mildly, large. The CBO says if the government stays on track--meaning maintaining current tax levels and expenditures--we're on track to ring up a deficit of $1.5 trillion, on top of deficits of $1.4 trillion and $1.3 trillion from the past two years.
The nonpartisan report enumerates the causes behind the debt: stubborn unemployment numbers, which has translated into a two-prong loss both in terms of taxable wages and in funding unemployment benefits to help the out of work tread water; TARP, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the housing market crash that brought banks and construction-related industries into the mud along with everyone else.
Initial reactions to Wednesday's release were swift. The National Review's Avik Roy assailed the CBO's estimates, asking how it could have been so off-base last year when it estimated that we'd be in a $980 billion hole instead of $1.5 trillion one. Roy soon recanted, saying he'd read the report too quickly and owed "an apology to the good people of the CBO." Roy said he'd relied on the topline summary instead of the CBO's analysis which said the increase was due to legislation such as the Job Creation Act and the extension of unemployment numbers, not bad math. Mother Jones' Kevin Drum was also quick to criticize Wednesday's report, poking holes both at Roy's rapid-fire critique and blaming Bush's tax cuts for the increase. He, too, recanted, saying "[Roy's] right that not all of the lost revenue comes from extension of the Bush tax cuts."