Saturday, April 21, 2012

Norquist and Lott from the book Debacle: are you better off after $53,000+ of additional debt?

In the book Debacle by Grover Norquist and John R. Lott, Jr. the authors on many occasions examine statements by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and disprove his statements with empirical evidence. On pages 109 - 111 of Debacle, Norquist and Lott disprove Krugman yet again regarding Krugman’s 02/25/2011 assertion that “…the size of the deficit in the next year or two hardy matters or the U.S. fiscal position.…and in fact the size over the next decade is barely significant.”  (1) (2)

Moreover, they make an observation of the share of the national debt based on an average family basis. That the share of national debt on the average family went from $87,000 to $140,000 so far (that was at the $11 trillion national debt level) under Obama and the $140,000 will balloon to $186,000 by 2016. That puts the numbers in a more digestible form [trillions can be difficult to comprehend].

They then take the above observation and go back to the last budget proposed by Bill Clinton. They take Clinton’s budget; project it forward to the 2012 budget year by adjusting for inflation and the growth in population. The result? A $70 billion surplus in 2012.  That makes for an eye opening comparison of what has happened over the last 12 years with the major ramp up in national debt occurring during Obama Administration.

But they don’t stop there. They pose this question [paraphrasing]: Ask yourself if all this new debt [your family’s share increasing from $87,000 to $140,000], which basically comes in the form of government spending, has greatly improved your life? Good question. That is, if your family’s share of debt went up $53,000, can you say you have experienced $53,000 worth of value? Stated alternatively, are you $53,000 better off?


(1) Paul Krugman, New York Times, Feb. 25, 2011

(2) Paul Krugman, “The Arithmetic of Near-term Deficits and Debt”, New York Times, August 6, 2011

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