The Imaginary Piggy Bank Turns Out To Be Empty, Anyway

Veronique de Rugy notices what the politicians are trying to ignore: The Congressional Budget Office Gives Dire Alternative Economic Futures.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections provide valuable insights into how a big chunk of your income is being spent and reveal the long-term consequences of our government's current fiscal policies—you may endure them, and your children most certainly will. Yet, like most other projections looking into our future, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. So should claims that CBO projections validate anyone's fiscal track record.

So much can and likely will happen to make projections moot and our fiscal outlook much grimmer. Unforeseen events, economic changes, and policy decisions render them less accurate over time. The CBO knows this and recently released alternative scenarios based on different sets of assumptions, and it doesn't look good. It remains a wonder that more politicians, now given a more realistic range of possibilities, aren't behaving like it.

First, let's recap what the situation looks like under the usual rosy growth, inflation, and interest rate assumptions. Due to continued overspending, this year's deficit will be at least $1.6 trillion, rising to $2.6 trillion by 2034. Debt held by the public equals roughly 99 percent of our economy—measured by gross domestic product (GDP)—annually, heading to 116 percent in 2034.

To emphasize: that's the fabled Rosy Scenario.

You can read the CBO report for yourself here. Try to find anyone out there talking about it besides Vero. And now me, I guess.

Also of note:

  • Spock is arching a disapproving eyebrow. Jacob Sullum thinks he's detected a rip in the space/time continuum: The Prosecution's Story About Trump Featured Several Logically Impossible Claims.

    Last January, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg summed up his case against Donald Trump this way: "We allege falsification of business records to the end of keeping information away from the electorate. It's an election interference case."

    That gloss made no sense, because the records at the center of the case—11 invoices, 11 checks, and 12 ledger entries that allegedly were aimed at disguising a hush-money reimbursement as payment for legal services—were produced after the 2016 presidential election. At that point, Michael Cohen, Trump's lawyer, had already paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep her from talking about her alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump, and Trump had already been elected. The prosecution's case against Trump, which a jury found persuasive enough to convict him on all 34 counts yesterday, was peppered with temporal puzzles like this one.

    If there's a legal analysis that resolves these "temporal puzzles", I'd like to see it. (I tried looking at the article's comment section at Reason, but it's a cesspool.)

  • But as Tina pointed out, we don't need another one. Noah Rothman thinks this would make a lousy Mad Max movie anyway: There Are No Heroes Here

    Much the same could be said for the pallid morality play to which heavy-breathing partisans insist we are all now privy. Among committed Democrats and their allies, Donald Trump’s conviction in a Manhattan courtroom is “justice done.” They appear to believe we should be grateful to them for the unprecedented actions they took to get at Trump however they could, unleashing unknowable forces in the process, forces that our generation and those that come after us must now contend with. Thanks so much.

    Likewise, the American Right seems inclined to beatify Trump — a man possessed of such incomprehensible venality and recklessness that he would put the country through his personal drama. He must be made into, if not a paragon of virtue, at least a sympathetic victim. What twaddle. It’s possible to believe, as I do, that Trump was railroaded on charges for which no one else would be prosecuted — much less in the sordid way it was prosecuted, which is why we have appellate courts in the first place — and still deny him the role of savior. On the right, however, that appears to be a minority viewpoint.

    That's an NR "gifted" link, my first of the month, so click away. I think Rothman has it exactly right.

  • [Amazon Link]
    (paid link)
    For some reason, the title is unavailable at Amazon. Maybe Rich Lowry's article is a little too timely a tale: EV fail exposes Pete Buttigieg as the little cabinet secretary who couldn’t.

    Rarely has a cabinet secretary done so little with such vast resources.

    On the CBS show “Face the Nation,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had to defend the Biden administration’s woeful record of building new electric vehicle charging stations that are key to unlocking its hoped-for EV nirvana.

    Host Margaret Brennan asked how it could be that, with $7.5 billion allocated for this purpose two years ago, the administration has managed to build eight.

    Not 8,000, or even 80. Eight.

    I'm impressed that a CBS news show actually posed such tough questioning.