The May 5 article on federal deficits and debt (“Biden will continue to reduce deficit, he says”) had a glaring mistake in its opening sentence. Washington Post reporter Eugene Scott wrote in the article The Plain Dealer reprinted that the Biden administration will be “paying down the debt for the first time in six years.” The only way federal debt — which currently exceeds $30 trillion — is paid down is if annual budget surpluses are produced. The projected deficit for the coming year is $1.4 trillion, and annual deficits well in excess of $1 trillion are expected to continue. Thus, we will be adding to debt, not paying it down.
While the rest of the article correctly referred to deficit not debt reduction, this error at the beginning of the article misled many readers. Finally, no one today should take credit for being a fiscal hawk. Recent budgets were swollen as a result of COVID-19 relief expenditures, and the deficit had to decline as these outlays ended.