Yesterday, Paul Krugman put up a strong challenger for the Dali-o-nomics surrealistic graph of the year.
For you aspiring magical realists of graphics, the best way to do this is to combine variables where there's no consensus on how to measure the concept being discussed.
Paul does this in spades by graphing the "adjusted deficit" as a percentage of "potential GDP" He get serious bonus point for mangling the axis labels and just generally producing an ugly graph.
Feast your eyes people:
A bit of googling will reveal that both the cyclically adjusted deficit AND potential GDP are
hotly contested concepts with no straightforward way to measure them.
Now, PK didn't need this magically surreal graph to prove his point, which is that we don't have a serious deficit problem through 2015.
However, as Jeff Sachs noted, we are in this happy state of affairs only because NO ONE LISTENED TO KRUGMAN and we produced almost $4 trillion in "deficit reduction" over the next decade.
That's $1.5 trillion from the first debt ceiling crisis, $1 trillion from the sequester, $600 billion from the part of the Bush tax cuts that were not continued on high earners and $600 billion from "interest savings".
So no, we don't need more short term deficit reduction, because we've already, in a piecemeal, disjointed, ugly and almost counterproductive way, dealt with the problem.
I say "almost counterproductive" because we have not done much of anything to address the main long term drivers of our budget problems: Medicare, Medicaid, (to a lesser extent) Social Security, and just health care costs in general.