Friday, March 25, 2011

What The Debate Should Be

In a rational world, there should be no discussion of the deficit as policy. Team D and Team R would prevent their competing visions for what the government should spend money on, and where that money should come from. People should understand that modest deficits are never a problem, and that large deficits in recessions are predictable (drop in revenue) and often desired (stabilizers to prevent state budget cuts). We should not be discussing whether we must cut granny's pension to cut the deficit, we should be discussing how big we think granny's pension should be and how we should be funding that pension. Ideally, we'd have one party that thinks we should spend a bit more on things like social safety nets, and do so with more progressive taxation, and one party which thinks we should spend a bit less, and with more regressive taxation, and the voters would have a reasonably clear choice.

But instead we're having a debate about just how much we should be cutting the deficit now and in 20 years, even though the former is a stupid idea and the latter we have no control over.