NPR seems to want listeners to ignore the economic downturn, by far the largest cause of the deficit, and to focus on cutting spending programs and raising everyone's taxes. That was certainly the theme of its interview with David Wessel, an economics reporter with the Wall Street Journal, which discussed his new book, Red Ink.
The first sentence of the piece refers to the "ballooning deficit." In fact the deficit is actually shrinking. While NPR can argue that the deficit is larger than it would like it to be, the direction of change is wrong. It cannot accurately be described as "ballooning."
The piece included Wessel's unchallenged assertion that the deficit probably cannot be closed without cutting spending and raising taxes across the board. It would have been helpful to note that the deficit is projected to get to a level that is almost consistent with a stable debt to GDP ratio if the economy were simply to get back to full employment. If health care costs were contained by reducing protectionism in the sector and a tax was imposed on financial speculation, the deficit would be at a sustainable level.
The segment also included the bizarre claim that there is widespread resentment against low and moderate income people who do not pay income taxes. It would be interesting if it presented evidence that supported this view. It is undoubtedly true that many people resent millionaires who use tax shelters in order to pay very low taxes, it is not clear that there is widespread anger over the fact that families earning $20,000-$30,000 a year are not paying income taxes (they do pay payroll taxes).
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