Question for the President

Whatever happened to your promise that the deficit would be “small and short-lived”?

You promised in your January 2002 State of the Union Address — after 9/11, after the recession had started — that “our budget will run a deficit that will be small and short-lived.” (See Paul Krugman, as quoted by Brad DeLong.)

Is $300 billion a year a small amount of money?

Is a decade a short period of time?

If not, what good reason can you offer for not keeping your promise?

The CBO projects an annual average deficit of $300 billion for the ten-year period from FY 2002-2011, and that’s not including the fiscal impacts of extending the tax cuts or continuing the occupation of Iraq. The on-budget deficit is, of course, much worse: the money that should be building up in the Social Security Trust Fund to finance the retirement of the boomers is instead being diverted to finance the tax cuts for the half-a-million-a-year crowd.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: