Act Now to Curb Deficits

President Bush's budget director, Joshua Bolten, admits what budget watchers in Washington have been saying for some time: When baby boomers start retiring less than 10 years from now, there will be "enormous challenges to our budget situation."

Why? Fewer workers will be available to pay rapidly rising Medicare and Social Security costs.

To get ready, the federal government should significantly reduce the amount of debt it has relative to the size of the economy. That would provide additional financial maneuvering room to pay boomers' retirement costs and to reform both Social Security and Medicare so they remain viable.

But gaining flexibility in the future will require controlling deficits now.

The latest Congressional Budget Office figures reveal the challenge. The federal government's spending outpaced revenues by $374 billion in the 12 months ending Sept. 30 - the largest deficit in history in dollar terms. The deficits of the mid-1980s and early '90s, however, were larger relative to the size of the economy.

Budget czar Bolten says he is optimistic that over the next five years the administration can cut the annual budget deficit in half from the $475 billion in red ink projected for fiscal 2004. Bolten says that assumes "pursuit of strong, pro-growth economic policies and exercise of fiscal restraint," which is how the Bush team describes its current approach.

The Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan watchdog group, is less hopeful. Using different assumptions, it says current policies could produce deficits totaling $5 trillion over the next 10 years, with the annual figure never falling below $420 billion.

To prevent that prediction from coming true, voters will need to encourage politicians to make unselfish choices on taxes and spending.

Toward that end, it is heartening that a recent poll found that three-quarters of those surveyed said a candidate's position on the deficit will be important in determining who gets their vote for president in 2004.

When it comes to making tough choices, there's nothing so courageous as a politician who does what voters want.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK