Bernie Sanders wants to cut the "deficits" by spending trillions more

Oh, dear Lord above, I try not to ask for much, but if You could find it appropriate, please let the Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders to run for President.

The Hill chooses the unintentionally humorous description of saying that VT Senator Bernie Sanders “flips the script” on Republicans by saying that he wants the government to focus on cutting deficits. (Notice the plural of deficit in that phrase.) Of course, Sanders isn’t talking about the actual budget deficit or the national debt… he doesn’t care about such things. He’s making a rather transparent attempt at being clever by describing a number of liberal talking points as “deficits” and there is nothing new to see here.

Sanders, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said lawmakers must address deficits in jobs, income equality, infrastructure, trade, retirement security and education in their next budget blueprint.

“These deficits must be immediately address by the Budget Committee,” he said in an eight-page report.

To address what he calls the infrastructure deficit, for example, Sanders says the United States should spend an additional $1 trillion on repairing roads and bridges by 2020.

“Investing $1 trillion over five years to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure would create and maintain at least 13 million good-paying jobs that our economy desperately needs,” the report said.

In order to improve people’s incomes, Sanders said Congress must first raise the minimum wage to “a livable wage” and expand overtime protections for workers.

Yes, according to Sanders there is a deficit in jobs which will be fixed with a trillion dollars or so of government spending. There is an income deficit which can be addressed by a federal minimum wage of fifteen or twenty bucks an hour, I’m sure. He goes on to list the Social Security deficit, which he will fix by vastly expanding the existing program and an education deficit which will require free college for everyone.

This isn’t unexpected, and a lot of his liberal supporters are touting the recent CBO numbers which show that deficits will be slightly lower than recent norms for the next few years. Never mind the fact that we’re still falling further and further down a black hole of debt. The big news is that we’re falling a tiny bit more slowly, so let’s all party (and spend) like it’s 1999!

Of course, these sunny outlooks and denial of any crisis overlook two important facets of those same CBO numbers. First, the anticipated slowing of the deficit is only projected to last for three years or so before kicking back fully into high gear. But the Wall Street Journal highlights the even more disturbing aspect of the figures.

The most troubling part is that CBO is growing steadily gloomier about the U.S. economy’s capacity to grow, the potential growth rate of gross domestic product. If CBO is right, that means it would be harder to bring down the historically high ratio of government debt to GDP. And it means living standards in the U.S. will improve more slowly.

In August, CBO projected that the economy would grow an average of 2.7% a year from 2014 to 2018; now, it is anticipating 2.5% growth.

That doesn’t sound like much, but over time a few tenths of a percentage point add up to significant numbers.

Increasing the deficit once again is bad enough, but the real poison pill under the covers is that the effect of the deficit is generally measured against the GDP (and American productivity in general) before it begins to have any measurable value. You can handle a slightly bigger deficit if the economy is ginned up and running hot. But the government’s own projections are that GDP is not only stagnating, but shrinking as compared to the total population who could be contributing to it. That’s an economic indicator of hard times coming and should be taken as a sign to slash the deficit, not raise it.

But don’t tell that to Bernie Sanders. It’s your money, but it grows on his trees.