Who Cares About the Deficit?

02.15.13 1:00 PM ET

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Evan Soltas dives into coverage of the deficit, and confirms every cynic's hunch on what people in power really think about the issue:

Here's what's really going on: a schizophrenic conversation about the proper size and role of government. It's really easy to win political support for lower taxes or for particular government spending. It's really hard, by contrast, to win support for the concomitant part of the Republican or Democratic agendas: big cuts to specific federal programs or increases in average tax rates on the middle class.

Washington doesn't have deficit monomania. It has an acute case of deficit displacement syndrome: a tendency to use a budget shortfall as cover to expand or contract the federal government. Instead of talking mainly about tax increases or cuts to government services, both parties disguise the real issue by feigning concern about deficits.