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Robert Samuelson: Deficits Forever?

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House Republicans, who are now deliberating the government's 2018 budget, pledge to eliminate deficits within a decade. Well, good luck with that. It must be obvious that chronic deficits reflect a basic political impasse that can be broken only if majorities in Congress do things they've refused to do: trim Social Security benefits; raise taxes significantly; control health spending. There is a giant mismatch between what Americans want from government and what they'll pay for with taxes.

Anyone who thinks otherwise should consult new figures from the Congressional Budget Office. They show how entrenched deficits have become. The table below, based on the CBO figures, compares three different budget plans for the decade from 2018 to 2027: (1) CBO's "baseline" budget, a projection of what current policies would produce; (2) the Trump administration's budget (there's much overlap with the House budget); and (3) Trump's budget as modified by the CBO........

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