On Wednesday afternoon, I attended a small meeting at the Treasury Department with a group of center-left bloggers (Tim Fernholz, Mike Allen, Felix Salmon, Shahien Nasiripour, Nick Baumann, Ezra Klein) to hold a deep background discussion about the U.S. recovery and the world economy.
Felix has a super write up on Treasury's position on housing, on unemployment, on world trade, on global banking rules, on bond bubbles, and more. I don't have much to add to those subjects, but here are my additional takeaways from the small meeting with Treasury:
Overall attitude: Realistic, and realistically dire. How could it possibly be otherwise? The economy is crawling forward, emphasis on the crawling. GDP growth in Q3 could be as low as 1.7 percent by some estimates. Democrats can't pass anything larger than a thimble through Congress, because Republicans won't sign a bill unless it permanently cuts tax rates. Anything more sanguine than the acknowledgment that Congress is frozen and the recovery is slow would be just spin.
Social Security reform: Treasury said the deficit commission set up by the president was close to agreeing on a package to reform Social Security. No details on what's in there, but I've heard from other people that it's going to focus on benefit reductions for the wealthy rather than tax increases. Read more about how that would work here.