Everyone but Congress seems to understand that debt is not a good thing. Because they’ve forgotten this important economic lesson, however, the Joint Economic Committee has a new briefing paper out to remind them of that fact. Based on a longer paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, the JEC highlights some tough truths that the government must face up to (preferably, sooner than later.)
Pointing out that “higher government debt levels-particularly at a time of aging populations and rising social insurance costs-pose a serious threat to long run economic growth and well-being,” the report cautions that “‘seldom do countries simply ‘grow’ their way out of deep debt burdens.’ Rather, countries that have accumulated large federal debts must take comprehensive action to reduce their debt levels. Before debt can be reduced, however, it must stop accumulating. To allow our economy to meet its long-run growth potential, current and future spending must be brought into balance with revenues. If this is not done, the U.S. and other countries that face similar fiscal situations risk rising interest rates on debt burdens and the inability to finance current spending.”
A 2-month band-aid was passed on Christmas Eve, but hopefully Congress will think twice before trying to hike the debt ceiling again in February. It’s about time for Congress’ New Year’s resolution for 2010 to be a little bit of belt-tightening and an overall slim-down of its operations!