America is Not Broke

The fiscal outlook is far better than it was a few years ago, but the political conversation remains stuck in an outdated panic about a looming “debt crisis.” My former colleague at Center for American Progress, Michael Linden, wrote a whole paper about that problem, called “It’s Time to Hit the Reset Button on the Fiscal Debate.”

Today, Reuters published my op-ed debunking the myth that America is “broke,” and pushing back against the politicians who peddle that line to justify their radical and unnecessary agenda:

This may be surprising, given how much we hear about a looming “debt crisis.” But annual budget deficits have fallen by almost two-thirds over the past five years. The total national debt is actually projected to shrink in each of the next three years as a share of the economy.

Exaggerating our debt does not advance smart fiscal policies. It does, however, undermine the social programs created by the New Deal and the Great Society by making their successes appear hopelessly unaffordable and doomed to failure.

If our debt is out of control, then Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid would seem like unrealistic pipedreams. Feeding the hungry, rebuilding our infrastructure and educating our children would sound like nice ideas, but too much for the government to handle.

That’s where the Republican budget comes in. For the past few years, House Republicans have passed a budget that radically reduces support for healthcare, economic opportunity and a safety net for hard times. By claiming to address an urgent “debt crisis,” it dismantles the social contract that Americans have made with their government for decades.

The full column is available at the Reuters website.

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