MY VIEW: Laura Tyson

In an Economix post in The New York Times, former Council of Economic Advisers chair and CRFB board member Laura Tyson argues that the sequester is poor policy for both short-term economic challenges and our long-term debt issue. The sequester both harms the short-term economy by providing too much deficit reduction in the short term, and it does not sufficiently address long-term debt issues since it doesn't touch the drivers of our debt. She says:

The economy needs less rather than more deficit reduction in the near term. But less deficit reduction also means more debt accumulation over time. Even with the sequester and the discretionary caps, federal debt held by the public is projected to recent Congressional testimony remain around 75 percent of G.D.P. during the next decade, compared with an average of about 40 percent between 1960 and the 2008 recession.

A large and growing government debt relative to the size of the economy has several negative potential consequences. Most important, when the economy is operating at capacity, it crowds out private saving and investment, reducing the capital stock, productivity and wage growth. It puts upward pressure on long-term interest rates and increases the cost of servicing the debt. It weakens investor confidence in the debt, heightens the risk of a financial crisis and reduces the government’s budgetary flexibility to address future, unexpected shocks.

The economy needs a long-run plan of revenue increases and spending cuts to put the federal budget on a sustainable path that will stabilize and reduce gradually the debt- to-G.D.P. ratio. Congress should jettison the sharp, front-loaded and arbitrary sequester cuts that will harm the recovery and work on such a plan.

Unfortunately, the political stalemate and ideology that produced the sequester appear to rule out this approach at least for now. Perhaps when the sequester’s costs become apparent, Congress will be forced back to the negotiating table.

Click here to read the full post.

"My Views" are works published by members of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, but they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the committee.

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