Here's some grim news, courtesy of Brad DeLong. We all know that the economy is operating well below its potential, a problem that congressional Republicans, to their eternal dishonor, are flatly unwilling to allow anyone to deal with. But things are worse than that: the economy's potential has been going down too. The chart below shows the evolution of the CBO's estimate of potential GDP between 2007 and now
Add up both the drop in potential GDP and the fact that we're operating well below even that, and the American economy is running at about $2.5 trillion under its forecast from only a few years ago. Congressional action probably can't fix this entirely, but it could sure fix a lot of it. It's scandalous that we're wasting our time talking about invented nonsense like Benghazi and the fiscal cliff instead.