Update: Australians are huge outliers on surpluses

From Moneybox:

Recall that in the United States, the emergence of a modest fiscal surplus in 1999-2000 prompted immediate political pressure for massive tax cuts. George W. Bush argued that the surplus was evidence that the government was overtaxing the public. Alan Greenspan argued that if the surpluses were left in place, they would lead to socialism. A non-indebted government, after all, is a government that's buying up the means of production.
Compare that, which is really the typical and expected public response to surpluses as I mentioned in my post the other day, to the Australian attitude. Have a look at the Howard government's budget papers and their most significant boast is the surplus and how many they've successfully delivered.

There's not really a preferable position. The weird Australian view was really helpful in the boom years because it enabled the delivery of a needed surplus; it's less so in the downturn because it's made the deficits harder. The American popular opinion makes it harder to manage booms but presumably a bit easier to stimulate in bad times. Different strokes!

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