In a nutshell
From Center of Budget and Policy Priorities using CBO numbers:
Ezra Klein explains each color and quantity. Tom Blumer explains how you do not have to look at it if you don’t want to.
And there you go…2012 election strategy in a nutshell.
One thing supports Blumer – people look at this graph and see different things even if it seems impossible to do so.
I recall when Paulson told Congress to give him the money and freedom to do with it what he pleased. (yea, my interpretation) Soon after, a colleague came into my office panicked about Paulson and I told him that whatever the government did, the path not taken would be impossible to measure. So if Paulson did it his way, I would support whatever was actually done in the hope that our country was helped.
So back to the graph. Now I look at it and wonder what would have happened if “the path not taken” were taken. What if Bush or Obama had managed to raise taxes? Would the depression have been worse or would the recession have been better? What if Obama ignored the deficit hawks, even those in his own house, and planted real stimulus that, at this point, was showing some growth and reduced unemployment. How would the graph look then?
If you follow the various paths not taken for Bush and Obama and reflect on this graph you begin to realize that the graph REALLY is only important in establish “who-done-it” or rather when a few policies began/were continued and how they may play out, albeit, most probably by expert models. Is this important? Not really except when politician lies make it important.
So, in a way, while Blumer is right that the graph can be ignored, Klein is right in that the left cannot allow it to be ignored.
In my opinion this graph has nothing to do with the future of the economy, meaning people’s lives. Since I am a stimulus/demand sider, I, in fact, think that looking at the graph too much may keep us from doing the short term things we need to do. We have been focusing much too much on future deficits/debts which only makes them worse.