America's Changing Budget

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
May 7 2013 11:17 AM

America's Changing Budget

slide-11-638

Doug Elmendorf/Congressional Budget Office

I think there's actually a law stating that a Congressional Budget Office director must at all times be making alarmist claims about the federal budget, so it's no surprise that Doug Elmendorf's presentation to a Harvard economics class ends with some alarmist claims. But his slides are also full of great, soothing charts. Take this one above about where we're headed over the next 10 years.

As you can see, we're set for a large increase in spending on the elderly and a substantial increase in spending on debt service. But this isn't going to crowd out the government's other domestic functions. It's going to lead to slightly higher taxes, and the risk that the Department of Defense will be unable to defend the American people against a cross-border invasion from Canada (I kid, I kid). Obviously the Department of Defense's actual activities are totally unrelated to the defense of the United States or its population—it's all about being a Global Force for Good these days.

Advertisement

But this is the thing that keeps not getting focused on in budgetary debates. Conservatives are very agitated about "spending" and progressives are very agitated about "austerity," but one of the biggest sources of short-term and medium-term austerity in the pipeline comes from reduced military spending. That's an issue we should debate in strategic terms outside the Moneybox portfolio, but one's strategic views also ought to inform one's budgetary views. If the sequestration cuts to the Pentagon budget are really harming national security, then it's truly perverse of Republicans to be so opposed to a tax component to sequester repeal. But if they aren't harming national security, then that ought to have some larger consequences for how we think about this.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM How Designers Use Creative Briefs to Better Their Work
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.