Archive | December, 2010

In Search of a Consensus on Deficit Reduction

Posted on 10 December 2010

A recent Gallup survey shows that Americans favor reducing the deficit as a strategy for economic growth—as opposed to other frequently discussed options including increased taxes on the wealthy or additional stimulus spending.

Yet, three days later after that survey’s release, the President’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility announced that it couldn’t muster the votes to send a deficit reduction plan to Congress for consideration.

Is there a disconnect between the worries of the American public and those in the position to do something about it?

Other research from Gallup suggests that it’s not cut and dry. Polling from earlier this year shows the public’s concerns about the national debt are rivaled only by their concerns about terrorism. Yet at the same time, a majority of the public is not willing to cut benefits that are driving our long-term debt crisis.

It’s not surprising that members of Congress would be hesitant to vote in favor of a deficit reduction plan that reins in Social Security, Medicare, etc.

Americans are concerned about the debt, both because of its sheer size and the personal consequences of not taking action (read more about personal consequences here). What they’re not yet on board with are the needed changes to “sacred” government programs necessary to put our country on firm financial footing.

There is an upside to taking action now: The deficit commission’s plan to reduce the national debt makes clear that it’s possible to make small, gradual changes to entitlement programs in the present, and avoid drastic cuts in the future.

It’s a bargain worth considering. As we wrote earlier this year, the consequences for you and your family of failing to make these changes now couldn’t be more serious: “Money in the bank and savings will be worth less; take home pay will be lower because of higher taxes; and promised benefits will be slashed as the glide path of entitlement reform becomes a cliff.”