MY View: Maya MacGuineas November 2011

CRFB president Maya MacGuineas just wrote an essay featured in the Ripon Forum. She writes that the debate over whether the "debt crisis" or the "jobs crisis" is more important misses the point that they are not mutually exclusive and that we can do both at the same time. She argues that debt reduction is a critical element of any economic growth strategy. She states that the best option to create a stronger economy and to avoid the risk of a fiscal crisis is a comprehensive, multi-year fiscal plan that stabilizes and reduces debt as a share of the economy.

She writes:

The solution, which has been laid out by Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve, Christine Lagarde at the International Monetary Fund, and Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson and the President’s Fiscal Commission, to name a few, is instead a multi-year, comprehensive fiscal plan that would set the budget on a glide path to stabilize the debt, but leave enough fiscal space up front keep to pushing the economy along.

Putting in place a deficit reduction plan to bring the debt back down to around 60 or 65 percent of GDP over a decade (still significantly higher than the historic average of below 40 percent, but more manageable at least) creates the opportunity to grow the economy in a number of ways that will not be achieved either through one-off stimulus measures or incremental spending cuts.

...First, it would take off the table the risk of a fiscal crisis. I know that only a few years ago, comparing the U.S. to Greece seemed inflammatory and absurd. However, recent events – including the well-deserved downgrade and the paralysis of our political system – now show the possibility of a full-blown fiscal crisis to be not nearly as remote as we would have liked to believe. Only by charting a new fiscal course will we remove that risk.

Second, implementing fiscal reforms that are comprehensive in nature, rather than incremental, offers the opportunity to restructure our budget and tax systems in ways to promote growth. The key here is switching from a consumption-oriented to an investment-oriented budget.

Click here to read the full essay.

"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.