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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

'America's Debt and the Economy: A Hard Look at Public Spending and Finance'

This session, as I thought it would be before it started, was annoying:

America's Debt and the Economy: A Hard Look at Public Spending and Finance: With mandatory programs consuming 13.6 percent of GDP and rising, security spending at 5 percent, debt service at 1.5 percent (under benign interest-rate conditions), and revenue at 19 percent, there is little or no room in the nation's budget to fund the discretionary programs that support competitiveness and growth over the long term. That will require investment in infrastructure, technology, environmental protection, education and job training, among other areas. Despite the shutdowns and threats of default, both Republicans and Democrats understand that our future prosperity demands a responsible focus on these imperatives. But how can the government's budgeting process move beyond short-term fixes? This discussion will identify areas for strategic bipartisan collaboration to put the U.S. on track for meaningful reform, leading to the creation of a budget that better addresses our challenges and reflects our priorities.

Speakers:

  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum; Former Director, Congressional Budget Office; Former Chief Economist, Council of Economic Advisers
  • Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for Responsible Federal Budget
  • Steven Rattner, Chairman, Willett Advisors; Former Counselor and Lead Auto Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
  • Gene Sperling, Former Director, National Economic Council, The White House
  • Moderator: Maria Bartiromo, Anchor and Global Markets Editor, Fox Business Network

I heard things such as:

Need to get spending under control to create a good investment climate.
Large spending programs are crowding out discretionary programs such as defense and infrastructure.
One of the most serious issues we face.
Wait until rates go up.
Nobody in Washington is interested in talking about it.
We have to cut entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security).
Our economic growth is lower because of the debt. Our economy is worse off because of it.
Huge benefit right now from cutting deficit.
Anyone who is sensible would agree with us.
Neither Bush nor Obama has been willing to explain to the public what a huge problem the debt is.
We need to do this, it is an important thing for our children.
President needs to make this a national priority, like it did with income inequality.
With all the problems in the world, is now the time to be cutting defense spending?
Simpson Bowles was a very, very, very good plan.

You get the idea. There was very little about tradeoffs, e.g. higher unemployment when we reduce the debt during a not so robust recovery, though Sperling did address this a bit, not enough on revenue enhancement, and -- though it did come up at times -- the relationship between health care costs and our long-term debt problems was not made as clear as it should have been.

When it comes to recovering from the recession, these people are the problem, not the solution.

But maybe I'm just being cranky (and biased from the start) -- watch the video and tell me what you think...

    Posted by on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 08:41 AM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Video | Permalink  Comments (32)

          


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