2004 - $413 billion
2005 - $318 billion
2006 - $248 billion
2007 - $205 billion
The New York Times's Paul Krugman, in December, wrote that President Bush "plunged the budget deep into deficit by cutting taxes on dividends and capital gains even as he took the country into a disastrous war." Senator Clinton went to the Senate floor in February of this year to speak of the "fiscal recklessness" of the Bush administration, which she charged had contributed to "record deficits." In March, Senator Schumer, who is now the chairman of Congress's Joint Economic Committee, spoke of "budget excesses of the past six years" that have brought us "a mounting debt to the rest of the world."
But as the shrinking figures above show, in fact the deficit is shrinking. When you look at it as a percentage of GDP, the decline is even more striking:
2004 - 3.6%
2005 - 2.6%
2006 - 1.9%
2007 - 1.5%
Steve Conover thinks that the number don't look right. Donny B. suspects some Georgejitsu:
He postulates that something bad will happen to derail the current virtuous trend very soon or that the White House is padding so as to surprise on the upside. I vote the latter. One thing that I, as a fairly close observer over the past few years, have noticed about this administration's political tactics is that they wait patiently (often to the chagrin of their cheerleaders who interpret the patience as indifference) while their political opponents stick their necks out farther and farther before they chop off their heads. Such is why I wouldn't have been surprised if Osama bin Laden had turned up dead at an opportune time (I still wouldn't). Nor will I be surprised when in the heat of the 2008 campaign, some things happen or start to get revealed that drastically alter the political calculus of the race to the detriment of this administration's opponents. As it relates to the deficit, I wouldn't be surprised if the deficit went away and the administration floated the idea of a surplus and allowed whoever gets the Republican nomination to ramp up the talk of additional tax cuts just as the 2008 campaign gets hot.What would be nice to see as a reinforcement of positive trends would be a fix of the globally least competitive aspect of our tax code: the high corporate tax rate.
...the U.S. now has the unflattering distinction of having the developed world's highest corporate tax rate of 39.3% (35% federal plus a state average of 4.3%), according to the Tax Foundation. While Ronald Reagan led the "wave of corporate income tax rate reduction" in the 1980s, the Tax Foundation says, "the U.S. is lagging behind this time."
Foreign leaders are also learning another lesson: Lower corporate tax rates with fewer loopholes can lead to more, not less, tax revenue from business. The nearby chart shows the Laffer Curve effect from business taxation. Tax receipts tend to fall below their optimum potential when corporate tax rates are so high that they lead to the creation of loopholes and the incentive to move income to countries with a lower tax rate. Ireland is the classic case of a nation on the "correct side" of this curve. It has a 12.5% corporate rate, nearly the lowest in the world, and yet collects 3.6% of GDP in corporate revenues, well above the international average.
Research from Mr. Hassett and others has shown that high corporate tax rates reduce the rate of increase in manufacturing wages (See our editorial, "The Wages of Growth1," Dec. 26, 2006.). For that matter, most economists understand that corporations don't ultimately pay any taxes. They merely serve as a collection agent, passing along the cost of those taxes in some combination of lower returns for shareholders, higher prices for customers, or lower compensation for employees. In other words, America's high corporate tax rates are an indirect, but still damaging, tax on average American workers. One immediate policy remedy would be to cut the 35% U.S. federal corporate tax rate to the industrial nation average of 29%. That's probably too sensible for a Congress gripped by a desire to soak the rich and punish business, but a Democrat who picked up the idea could turn the tax tables on Republicans in 2008.
As to what will actually happen, "we'll see."