Liberal economist Dean Baker at the American Prospect points out the obvious. While the projected $490 billion deficit is a "record" in number of dollars, it isn't close to the record in the only stat that counts: The deficit as percentage of GDP.
This is not to scoff at $490 billion dollars of red ink. Bailing out failing banks, dumb consumers, shady lenders, and trying to fight two wars coupled with an economic slowdown and you have the recipe for spending a lot more than the government takes in.
The latest projections show a deficit of $490 billion. By the absolutely meaningless measure of nominal dollars this is a record. But if anyone thinks this is giving information to readers, then they have no business writing news. The relevant measure is the deficit as a share of GDP. The 2009 deficit will be equal to about 3.3 percent of GDP. Even if you add in 1.3 percent of GDP for the money borrowed from Social Security this only gets you to 4.6 percent, well below the 6.0 percent deficit hit in 1983.
Obama wants to tax our way ouf of the deficit. McCain wants to grow our way clear along with cutting spending.
Which one will make more sense to the voter? Let's hope the electorate hasn't gone totally bonkers.