Care to hear a politician -- a Democratic congressional leader, in fact -- getting it wrong on the deficit? Listen to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer addressing a Third Way event in Washington at the end of June:
This month, a Gallup poll asked Americans to name the greatest threats facing our country. Two answers tied for the top choice. One was terrorism. The other was debt.
This is a remarkable moment in political history -- a time when our creeping fiscal danger of our $9 trillion of publicly held debt troubles Americans as much as the prospect of the most brutal attacks on our country. More than ever, Americans understand the danger of debt: a stagnant economy, a hobbled government, and a weak national defense.
Once an obscure tax loophole, the Earned Income Tax Credit has achieved policy stardom in recent years. While many programs for the poor have been ravaged over the last decade in the name of political and fiscal temperance, the EITC has prospered. Its annual cost rose from $2 billion to $12 billion between 1980 and 1992. And the 1993 budget agreement expands the program by some $20 billion over five years—:even as it cuts billions of dollars from middle-class programs like Medicare and federal employee pensions. The EITC has ardent supporters across the political spectrum, and both Democrats and Republicans have claimed it as their own.