Can Washington Solve Its Problems? The Atlantic's Economy Summit Kicks Off

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For the last two years, the vicious budget battles between House Republicans and President Obama have often seemed to be the single greatest threat to the fragile U.S. economic recovery. That's perhaps truer today than ever, as the country begins to swallow sequestration's billions in forced spending cuts -- a sudden, ill-timed dose of austerity that could cost as many as 700,000 jobs. 

Of course, it wasn't supposed to be this way. Dreamed up during the debt ceiling standoff of 2011, sequestration was meant to be an unthinkable threat that would kick in only if Capitol Hill and the White House failed to reach a long-term bargain on the deficit. But as we've learned, the only thing that we can take for granted in Washington is gridlock. 

So where do we go from here? That's the overriding question we'll be looking to answer today at The Atlantic's Economy Summit, where some of most respected and influential names in policy and politics will share their thoughts on what the future must bring. The featured guests include:

  • Gene Sperling, Director of President Obama's National Economics Council
  • Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve 
  • Alice Rivlin, founding director of the Congressional Budget Office, member of the deficit hawk group Fix the Debt (and noted modern dance connoisseur). 
  • Robert Rubin, former Treasury Secretary 
  • Sheila Bair, former FDIC Chair  
  • Grover Norquist, anti-tax lobbyist
  • Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Hoeven (R-ND)

Is it still possible for the two parties to compromise, or are they too philosophically far apart to ever reach an accord? And how can Washington make a deal without causing even more damage to the recovery? Do we truly need to cut spending now to address our debt problems, or should Washington be trying to stimulate more growth while planning for long-term fiscal prudence? 

Stay tuned throughout the day for answers and some lively debate. 


See the agenda and watch live here.

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Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic.

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