We’re 60 Percent of the Way to Simpson-Bowles!

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UPDATE: Sorry, I screwed up here. I didn’t account properly for the total ten-year effect of Simpson-Bowles, and I didn’t adjust for different baselines. When you do this, SB produces $6.3 trillion in deficit reduction. We’re about 60 percent of the way there, not 90 percent. More here.


This is just a quick arithmetic reminder. If the sequester goes into effect, here’s how we’ve done on deficit reduction over the past few years:

  • 2010 continuing resolutions: $450 billion
  • FY2011 budget: $200 billion
  • Budget Control Act: $960 billion
  • Fiscal cliff deal: $840 billion
  • Sequester: $1.2 trillion
  • Total: $3.6 trillion

The original Simpson-Bowles plan, which is Washington’s holy grail, called for $4.1 trillion in deficit reduction. All calculations include debt service savings, so this is an apples-to-apples comparison.

If you want to move the goalposts, feel free. But facts are facts: by this time next week we will have achieved very nearly the total amount of deficit reduction that everyone was gaga about a mere two years ago—more than 80 percent of it from spending cuts. It’s truly unfortunate that we’ve been so fixated on this, since we would have been much better off investing for the future and leaving deficit reduction for later, but that’s water under the bridge. Love it or hate it, over the past 27 months we’ve accomplished nearly 90 percent of the deficit reduction everyone wanted.

So we’re all happy about this, right? Right?

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