It's hardly a surprise to see a column in the Washington Post opinion pages calling for lower federal budget deficits. In spite of the continued weakness of the labor market and the economy, the Washington Post continues to push for less demand, growth, and employment.
Fred Hiatt did the job today by praising Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo for cutting public employee pensions, and contrasting these cuts with increased tax cuts and spending at the federal level. Hiatt's complaint is that Congress agreed to extend tax cuts, which with interest are projected to cost $780 billion over the next decade. This comes to roughly 0.4 percent of GDP over this period.
In a context where the economy is likely to face a shortfall in demand, this addition to the deficit will lead to more growth and jobs, although its impact would be larger if more of the money were committed to items like education and infrastructure or the tax cuts went to lower or middle income people. Assuming a multiplier of 1, the addition to GDP would be approximately 0.4 percent of GDP, implying around 500,000 more jobs. (If the Fed is deliberately blocking growth by raising interest rates, then the tax cuts will not boost growth.)
It is also worth noting that Raimondo's pension strategy in Rhode Island has meant a windfall for hedge funds, which are now collecting substantial fees from the state's pension funds. While the Washington Post is generally happy to see cuts to ordinary workers' pensions and Social Security, it consistently applauds actions, such as the TARP, which give public money to the financial sector.