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Greenstein Op-Ed: The Best Approach for Deficit Reduction


Writing in The Hill, Robert Greenstein explained why, amidst the ongoing debate about competing budget proposals, we should look at the big picture and ask:  “what are we trying to accomplish, and how should we reach that goal?”  Here’s an excerpt:

There’s been a lot of discussion about how much deficit reduction the budget should include. But deficit reduction itself isn’t the goal — it’s one piece of a longer-term strategy to improve the economy and the country, and it must be designed and implemented carefully to avoid endangering the economic recovery or harming our most vulnerable populations.

For starters, over the next decade we should stop the debt from growing faster than the economy; failing to do so erodes future living standards and risks an eventual economic crisis. This is the minimum goal we should shoot for over the decade.

After designing such a plan or a somewhat more ambitious one, policymakers should phase it in over the coming years without seeking further deficit reduction in the next year or two, when the economy will remain too weak to absorb austerity measures without such measures slowing growth and causing the loss of more jobs….

Beyond the amount and speed of deficit reduction, what also matters greatly are the contents of a viable deficit-reduction plan. In designing a plan, the quality of deficit reduction matters, not just the quantity.

Click here for the full piece.