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The Real Reason the Deficit Is Exploding Again

• https://fee.org, Daniel J. Mitchell

The Congressional Budget Office just released a Monthly Budget Review showing a $782 billion deficit for the 2018 fiscal year.

My recommendation is to mostly ignore data on red ink. Yes, it is possible that a country can get in trouble because of deficits and debt, but it's far more important to look at what's happening with government spending.

This is for two reasons.

First, spending is the most accurate way of measuring the fiscal burden of government. Regardless of whether it is financed by taxes or borrowing, spending is what requires resources to be diverted from the economy's productive sector.

Second, the best way of predicting red ink is to look at what's happening to spending. If the burden of government spending is growing faster than the private sector, that's a very worrisome trend. In the long run, it leads to fiscal crisis.

With this in mind, I dug into the CBO numbers to see what's really happening.

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