Boy, what an optimistic Bushonomics bunch. I sure wish I could taste whatever they put in their coffee each morning. It must trump any mood elevator divined by the drug industry.
Take, for instance, these remarks from Randal Quarles, the under secretary for domestic finance at the Treasury Department. He told bankers this week that the United States can maintain a "sizable current account deficit for a longer period of time than other countries," while describing the U.S. economy as being in good shape.
Tell that to the boys on Wall Street. They've suffered a 600-point Dow drubbing these past few weeks, rolling the Dow Jones industrial average back to March levels and erasing its return to Clinton-era highs of six years ago. One factor (among many) cited for jittery markets is the historically unprecedented levels of federal debt. It's easy to forget, but when President Bush took office there was actually a surplus.
Now, some estimate that the deficit could run up to as much as $423 billion this year, "up from $318 billion last year," notes Dallas Morning News columnist Scott Burns. "We worry about a number that size because (1) it is very, very large, (2) we have to borrow most of it from strangers, and (3) it will bring gross federal debt to over $8 trillion."
Compare that with Quarles's take on deficit spending: "It would appear hard to argue that our debt is currently an unsustainable burden of any sort. ... It is in fact relatively modest compared to our country's [gross domestic product], compared to our capacity to service the interest, compared to our own historical practice, and compared to the rest of the world's advanced economies."
To bastardize a phrase from Alfred E. Neuman, "What, Bushies worry?" You know you're in trouble when voters are looking to Democrats for fiscal responsibility and the Republican mantra, a "balanced budget," is so far a thing of the past as to defy recollection.