CRF Blog

Is the Deficit Urgent, or a Distraction?

by Bill Hayes

The New York Times’ Room for Debate lets various knowledgeable contributors discuss news events and other timely issues. One recent debate covered: Is the Deficit Urgent, or a Distraction?

At the Republican convention, economic buzzwords like “jobs,” “unemployment,” “work” and “spending” are popping up more often than “God” and “families.” In the convention’s keynote speech, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, even went so far as to say that Republican candidates like Mitt Romney must be willing to reform unsustainable but popular entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. Paul Ryan, the vice presidential nominee, has made a career out of crusading against red ink.

Everyone seems to agree that the U.S. needs recovery and growth, and that the federal deficit is a priority. But there is no consensus about whether or how the nation could address both at once. Is the budget deficit the nation’s most pressing problem? Or would the necessary spending cuts and tax increases be too risky right now? [more]