Obama’s Wrong-Headed Thinking on the Deficit

Edward Harrison catches this quote from Obama:

The president is in Beijing as part of his tour through several Asian countries to address economic challenges. He spoke candidly about the precarious balancing act his administration is trying to perform. He wants to spend money to kick-start the economy, but at the same time is in danger of creating too much red ink.

Obama warned the United States’ climbing national debt could drag the country into a “double-dip recession,” though he said he’s still considering additional tax incentives for businesses to reverse the rising unemployment rate.

“There may be some tax provisions that can encourage businesses to hire sooner rather than sitting on the sidelines. So we’re taking a look at those,” Obama told Fox News’ Major Garrett.

“I think it is important, though, to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession.”

I hope his economic advisers set him straight, though I suppose there’s a chance that this nonsense is coming from them. We needed a larger stimulus package to begin with, and the economy could still use more help, labor markets in particular.

Let’s hope that this doesn’t turn into a call to actually start balancing the budget before the economy has fully recovered as that would increase the chances of the double dip recession that he is so worried about (something we should have learned from the 1937-38 experience where an attempt to balance the budget prematurely plunged the economy back into recession).

These comments also make it sound like any jobs program, if we get one at all, will be limited to (right-wing approved) tax cuts which is, in my opinion, inferior to direct job creation strategies. Tax cuts can be part of the mix, but by themselves are unlikely to do enough to solve the employment problem.

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About Mark Thoma 243 Articles

Affiliation: University of Oregon

Mark Thoma is a member of the Economics Department at the University of Oregon. He joined the UO faculty in 1987 and served as head of the Economics Department for five years. His research examines the effects that changes in monetary policy have on inflation, output, unemployment, interest rates and other macroeconomic variables with a focus on asymmetries in the response of these variables to policy changes, and on changes in the relationship between policy and the economy over time. He has also conducted research in other areas such as the relationship between the political party in power, and macroeconomic outcomes and using macroeconomic tools to predict transportation flows. He received his doctorate from Washington State University.

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2 Comments on Obama’s Wrong-Headed Thinking on the Deficit

  1. I would not worry about them trying to balance the budget. You should have learned by now that Mr. O is all talk and no action. However the borrowing got to the point that they will add an other 2 trillion to the budget next year and unless they shut down half of the US government and military and stop funding social security they will not be able to balance the budget. So you can go to sleep tonight knowing that the Hyperinflation is well on its way.

  2. Obama is telling us to not get in debt? Isn’t this the same guy that enticed millions of Americans into getting a car loans with the Cash4Clunkers program? I can’t wait to see the wave of repossessions hit (see http://www.repofinder.com) that sinks us into another recession.

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