After reviewing a few of the latest follies on Capitol Hill, Jon Chait concludes that the Beltway chattering classes have become obsessed with the federal deficit because, as far as they’re concerned, the economy is fine and we don’t really have to worry about it anymore:
The view that the deficit represents a uniquely high priority, and that we should prioritize it over economic growth even during the greatest economic crisis since the Depression, has been deeply embraced by economic and political elites in both parties. And it’s hard to disconnect this from the fact that, for those elites, the economic crisis is over.
Moments later, Catherine Rampell posts this result from a recent Gallup Poll:
Sure enough, where you stand depends on where you sit. If you have a job and you’re earning good money, the economy doesn’t look great, but it doesn’t look that bad either. If you don’t have a job and/or you’re not earning much, the economy continues to look pretty sucky.
And the Beltway folks? They all have jobs and they all earn considerably more than $75,000. To them, the economy probably looks almost peachy. It’s no wonder they can afford to focus all their attention on what the federal deficit is going to look like in the year 2030.1
1Plus, this focus is politically useful for Republicans. That always helps with the chattering classes too.