The Long and Short of Fiscal Policy

More

The U.S. recovery is evidently faltering. The case for further fiscal stimulus is strong, so long as credible steps are taken to contain long-term borrowing. In principle, this isn't so difficult to do. In practice, such is the present dysfunction of U.S. politics, it looks impossible. I'd say the blame belongs about equally to anti-stimulus Republicans and pro-stimulus Democrats. As I write in the FT:

This laughably simple prescription - maintain or add to stimulus for the time being, plan to reduce the debt once the economy strengthens - is evidently beyond both branches of government. In Congress, Republicans sense triumph in November. A failing recovery is their friend, so long as they can blame the administration's supposed fiscal irresponsibility. The strategy is working. It even has the party voting to block extensions to unemployment benefits, which under the circumstances is not just bad economics but an affront to ordinary decency.

But where is Barack Obama's leadership when you need it? The White House is letting Republicans win the argument by refusing to address the long-term issue. The president set up a fiscal commission to make recommendations - a classic stalling device. He and his party, if they believe in anything, believe in bigger government. Yet he has tied his own hands on revenues by promising no tax increases for most Americans. He has pushed through an unpopular healthcare reform that only he and his most besotted allies believe will cut costs.

Is it surprising that the country thinks fiscal policy is out of control, even to the point of looking warily at extended jobless benefits? To get its way on short-term stimulus, the White House needs to talk seriously about long-term budget policy. The silence is deafening

Jump to comments
Presented by

Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgement, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In