Bad news: The falloff in revenue growth now means the trends in revenues and outlays are diverging. Translation: Don't expect a balanced budget any time soon, let alone in time to make the presidential campaign more interesting. More bad news: It doesn't look good for my side of the bet I made a year ago (...wait, I take that back; that's good news to a lot of people). Anyway, here's the disappointing chart; click to enlarge.
Let me be clear: I do NOT think a balanced budget would be good news, because I prefer a unified budget deficit that is just large enough to keep the debt/GDP ratio from increasing or decreasing. It's the stuttering politicians a balanced budget would induce that would be good news to me. I love a good laugh, and that would deliver plenty of good ones. Unfortunately, it looks like it won't be happening.
I'm thinking about adding a third line to this chart, if I can find the time: the receipts level required to maintain the current ratio of debt to GDP (...it would be lower than the actual receipts shown). It certainly wouldn't make a dent in any political rhetoric on the right or left, but it might be helpful information for anyone who understands the 3rd grade arithmetic lesson that when the denominator grows faster than the numerator, the ratio shrinks.
Feedback is welcome. Again, be prepared to tell me your real name and background, privately, if I ask for it privately. [And anyone who is clinging to the politically-convenient belief that the general fund deficit—not the unified budget deficit—is the more important number, should expect to be asked.]