Since passage of the deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff,” Congressional Republicans have attempted to portray it as the “last word” on taxes going forward. “The tax issue is behind us,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Democrats, meanwhile, have said that any forthcoming budget deal should be composed of equal parts revenue and spending cuts. But even doing that would mean the bulk of deficit reduction will have been achieved through spending cuts, because, as the Center for American Progress’ Michael Linden and Michael Ettlinger show, three-quarters of deficit reduction since 2011 has been due to spending cuts:
Since the start of fiscal year 2011, President Barack Obama has signed into law approximately $2.4 trillion of deficit reduction for the years 2013 through 2022. Nearly three-quarters of that deficit reduction is in the form of spending cuts, while the remaining one-quarter comes from revenue increases. As a result of that deficit reduction, the projected rise in debt levels from today through 2022 has decreased by nearly 10 full percentage points of gross domestic product. In fact, under today’s policies, debt levels in 2022—as a share of GDP—will be only slightly higher than they are expected to be by the end of next year.
Here’s a timeline of accumulating deficit reduction, with spending cuts in red and revenue increases in blue:
When McConnell tried to claim on ABC’s This Week that revenue was off the table, anchor George Stephanopoulos wasn’t having it. And the numbers show he was exactly right.