While the actual deficit is likely to shrink over the next few years as the economy continues to recover, the aging of the baby-boom generation and rapidly rising health care costs are likely to create a large and growing gap between spending and revenues. These deficits will take a toll on private investment and economic growth. At some point, bond markets are likely to turn on the United States — leading to a crisis that could dwarf 2008…This is your teaser
“The Moment of Truth” documents that “the problem is real, and the solution will be painful.” It is tempting to act as if the long-run budget imbalance could be fixed by just cutting wasteful government spending or raising taxes on the wealthy. But the facts belie such easy answers.Alice Rivlin, the first Director of the Congressional Budget Office, makes a similar observation (Brookings, “Address the Real Budget Issues”)
Squabbling over federal spending for the few months left in this fiscal year is a distraction from the serious deficit threats of the future. Threatening a costly, pointless government shutdown is just plain silly. Our elected leaders should turn to next year's budget and start sorting out needed government activities from lower priority ones we can live without. The president has offered cuts in long-standing programs to fund investment in future growth within a constrained total. He and Congress should work together to decide what we most want our government to do as we all tighten our belts. This will take hard work and willingness to compromise, not posturing and sound bites.The added emphasis through bolding is mine.
Even more important, we must also slow the long-term growth of Medicare and Medicaid and make Social Security solvent. We must reform our absurdly complex, inefficient tax code so it raises more money at lower rates. Otherwise, we face a debt catastrophe that could destroy our prosperity and world influence. These tough decisions must involve both parties working together so that neither side can blame the other for what has to be done.
Brave young people are risking their lives in the name of democracy in far places. Can't we show that our democracy works right here right now?