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Addressing the Long-Term Budget Deficit

Testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance on 'Perspectives on Deficit Reduction: A Review of Key Issues'

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SOURCE: Center for American Progress

CAP Vice President for Economic Policy Michael Ettlinger testifies before the Senate Committee on Finance. Read the testimony. (CAP Action)

Thank you Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Hatch for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the federal budget deficit.

The risks associated with the nation’s long-term deficit challenge have been well documented by numerous independent experts, including those at the Center for American Progress, so my testimony will not focus on that today. Suffice it to say that, while our immediate deficits are necessary and appropriate given the state of the economy, the projected long-term deficits that would result from maintaining current policies are unsustainable and highly problematic.

It has been encouraging that, for the last several months, the public debate over how to solve the long-term deficit problem has entered a new, much more sincere and substantive, stage. To a significant degree, we have moved beyond the mere posturing that had characterized the previous stage of debate when most were saying how much they deplored the deficits but were staying deliberately vague about what they’d do about them. Now, finally, we are starting to see the range of possible choices put before Congress and the public. This is a critical breakthrough. The posturing stage wasn’t just a problem because it delayed finding a solution; it was a problem because it perpetuated the pernicious myth that the problem could be solved without much pain. And as long as that myth survived, it meant great political risk to anyone who proposed a serious plan.

We at CAP like to take some credit for this breakthrough. We have been diligently outlining the difficulty of the challenges and offering specific solutions since 2009, and it’s been heartening to see the debate move to the point where we have a great deal of company.

CAP Vice President for Economic Policy Michael Ettlinger testifies before the Senate Committee on Finance. Read the testimony. (CAP Action)

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