Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! (5/3/11)

At the turn of the century, the United States government was running a surplus. Eleven years later, we’re running a trillion-dollar deficit. What happened? Well, in rough chronological order: we cut taxes; suffered a mild recession; endured a large-scale terrorist attack; went to war with Afghanistan; created the Department of Homeland Security; went to war with Iraq; added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare; sent stimulus checks to every American; suffered a severe recession; bailed out big, insolvent banks; bailed out big, insolvent automakers; engineered a second stimulus consisting of corporate tax cuts, individual tax credits, aid to states, and road construction projects; provided rebates to people who traded in their cars; extended a popular tax credit for first-time homebuyers; reached an agreement to keep income taxes from rising; cut payroll taxes; and went to war with Libya. How will it all end? Call me cynical, but (what’s left of) my money is on Congress doing nothing until Social Security and Medicare are flat broke, then raising payroll taxes (which retired, abundant, and eager-to-vote baby boomers won’t be obliged to pay) in order to cover the difference.

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