Learning To Love The Trillion Dollar Deficit

Matt Miller, a former "deficit fetishist," claims that the current economic situation demands a large deficit:

The key (and here you'll see I haven't really changed my stripes) is to enact a long-term framework for fiscal sanity even as we test the limits of how much debt the Treasury can peddle.

Bob Litan of the Brookings Institution suggests building such triggers into Obama's blueprint from the start. Once unemployment gets back beneath 6%, for example, we could require a supermajority vote in Congress to run deficits higher than, say, 2% or 3% of GDP (by comparison, the trillion dollar figure will push us toward 7%, an all-time high).

Yes, promises like this can be broken. But given the extraordinary circumstances, writing this kind of future restraint into law would tell world markets that we know the debt spree has to end. Obama could also set up a bipartisan commission on Social Security and Medicare with a view to building consensus for action in a second term, by which time the current crisis will, with luck, be a fading memory.