POLITICS

Treasury secretary: ‘We are overachieving on deficit reduction’

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Deficit,Treasury,Fiscal Policy

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Congress that President Obama’s administration is “overachieving on deficit reduction,” as he defended the president for submitting a budget that never balances.

“If anything, we are overachieving on deficit reduction right now, given where we are in terms of the current year and immediate economic needs,” Lew told Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., while testifying Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee.  “So, the goal, you know, should not be to balance the budget right now.”

Lew then confirmed that budget policymakers should plan to raise taxes. “I think that we should have a fair mix of spending reductions and loophole closing that would give us the ability to, in a fair and balanced way, be on a long-term path to fiscal sustainability,” he told Stutzman.

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office revised its 2013 deficit projection downward by about $200 billion, citing “higher-than-expected revenues and an increase in payments to the Treasury by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” CBO now expects the U.S. to run a $642 billion deficit this year.

The CBO figures might seem to support Lew’s contention, but National Review’s Kevin Williamson explained the irresponsibility of Obama’s budget when it was first proposed.

“If enacted, Barack Obama’s latest budget would mean that in just 10 years, interest payments alone on the national debt would begin pushing the trillion-dollar mark: $763 billion a year by 2023,” he wrote. “Under Obama’s budget, in 2020 interest payments alone would amount to more than national-defense spending in that year. By 2023, interest payments alone would amount to more than all nondefense discretionary spending in that year.”

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