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A budget only a hillbilly could love



I'm not sure yet what the single most disingenuous portion of Paul Ryan's House Budget executive summary (pdf) is, but certainly this chart in the middle of it must get the prize for creative graphics.

Ryan's budget takes a short-term trend-line and extends it out to...2080...a scant 69 years away.

Whoever is president in 2080 most likely hasn't been born yet--for sure she can't vote.

Whoever is in Congress in 2080 won't even have entered Congress until 2050 at earliest, with a few stentorian exceptions.

Imagine the change in American industry between now and 2080. Over the past 69 years, we've seen the emergence of not only the Internet, but television too. There was no space exploration, let alone satellites, 69 years ago. There were no cellphones 69 years ago, no hybrids, not even pocket calculators.

There was no 818 or 310, never mind a 323 or a 626 area code.

Coffee in America went by a couple of names 69 years ago: "Folger's," "Yuban," and "Maxwell House."

On the Dow 30, there was no MicroSoft 69 years ago. There was no Intel. There was no McDonald's. There was no Wal-Mart. There was a Disney company but it wasn't selling shares. In fact, about a third of the current Down 30 wasn't even formed 69 years ago, and another third has morphed beyond recognition from their infant pasts.

But Paul Ryan wants to make Americans fear and tremble by drawing a trending line out to the year 2080, and presuming nothing changes between now and that time.

Well, it might not. In 2080, on August 30, Warren Buffett will only be 150 years old.

The more honest chart is to show debt as a percentage of gross domestic product over the past 69 years.

And--wait--what's that?



It turns out that the national debt as a percentage of gdp was even higher 69 years ago than it is today!