Monday, September 25, 2023

How Important is it to Address Our National Debt?

by Rod Williams, Sept. 25,2023- Former Democratic Govenor Phil Bredesen and former Republican Govenor Bill Haslam host a regular podcast called "You Might Be Right."  I highly recommend this podcast. Bredesen and Haslam civically engage on current issues. It is almost rare these days that people of different points of view can really discuss issues. Even within a family or among friends it is often best not to discuss anything of substance. When news programs have opposing views presented, it is often two people sticking to their talking points and talking past each other.  Real engagement is rare.

In this episode #4 of the podcast, Govenor's Bredesen and Haslam, address the national debt with former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Berkeley economist Barry Eichengreen.  They discuss good vs. bad debt, what we can and should do to address it, the political difficulty of addressing the issue, the problem of "crowding out" caused by debt, and the potential consequences of failing to act. 

This podcast starts with fundamentals and explains the difference between debt and deficits. They discuss the history of American debt and how the current debt is different than past debt. Past debt was usually incurred in response to an emergency that would come to an end, such as borrowing to fund World War II. "It's structural now. It's not incidental," says Bredesen. "There's nothing to come to an end. We're not going to bring Medicare to an end. We're not going to bring Medicaid to an end."
Haslam makes a point that needs to be clearly made. "Fixing fraud and waste is not going to fix our debt problem," he says. At all levels of government, you often hear this from conservatives.  This is pure fantasy. Sure, there is fraud and corruption and mismanagement and waste in government, but not enough to balance a budget.  To balance the national budget and to begin to reduce the debt, tax receipts and tax expenditures must balance. There are not short cuts or magic bullets. 

To access the podcast, follow this link. If you prefer reading a transcript rather than listening, follow this link

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