Only in Washington, the place where you land when you fall through the looking glass, could this be hailed as good news:
Between 2009 and 2012, the federal government recorded the largest budget deficits relative to the size of the economy since 1946, causing its debt to soar. The total amount of federal debt held by the public is now equivalent to about 74 percent of the economy's annual output, or gross domestic product (GDP) — a higher percentage than at any point in U.S. history except a brief period around World War II and almost twice the percentage at the end of 2008.
If current laws remained generally unchanged in the future, federal debt held by the public would decline slightly relative to GDP over the next few years, CBO projects. After that, however, growing budget deficits would push debt back to and above its current high level. Twenty-five years from now, in 2039, federal debt held by the public would exceed 100 percent of GDP, CBO projects. Moreover, debt would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy, a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely.
Those are the first two paragraphs of the Congressional Budget Office's latest report. Our deficit levels (annual totals of red ink) are stalled at breathtakingly high levels — and are projected to soar again in a few years, piercing the $1 trillion mark. Our debt (money owed to the United States' creditors) is on pace to exceed the GDP (the value of goods and services produced) by the time today's college graduates turn 50.
Scary news, right? Not according to many media outlets and a cynical leadership class in Washington. Some news organizations focused on the sugar-high of good news — the (temporary) dip in deficits. Politico's lede:
The federal budget outlook will continue to improve this year, with the deficit projected to shrink to $514 billion — the lowest level since President Barack Obama took office.
Think of a reporter covering a shooting. The police tell him the victim is dying of blood loss. Is the headline, "Shooting Victim Expected to Die" or "Blood Flow Slows for Shooting Victim"?