Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Deficit Panda

... so Ruth Marcus describes herself. Here's why.
I would argue that it is possible to be a deficit panda: to simultaneously worry about the debt and believe in an active and compassionate role for government. In fact, I would argue that worrying about the debt is required of those who believe in such a government role.

Failing to deal with the debt will hurt everyone, but the neediest will suffer the most. The economy-wide consequences of doing nothing - higher interest rates, slower economic growth, lower standards of living - will hit hardest those least well off. Meanwhile, the budgetary reality of mounting interest costs will eat away at the government's ability to provide a reliable safety net.
Amen, Ruth, although I would suggest that moral prudishness is the first-order solution to poverty and the government is a second-order solution. That is, without prudish behavior, the government is, at best, a band-aid on a large, deep wound. Still, a safety net saved from the depredations of interest payments on a preposterous debt is something we can all cheer.

Whatever our disagreements, her article is worth reading in toto.


Jeff Burton said...

Sorry, but I'm in a cynical mood this morning. I'm sure she just wants to raise taxes. Then she can stop worrying about the deficit and resume increasing the size of entitlements.

K T Cat said...

The important thing is that she's talking about it like it's a problem. Like AA says, the first step on the road to recovery is admitting you've got a problem. The fact that she's breaking away from the feckless Barack Obama / Harry Reid wing of her party is an good thing.