Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Thanks, Stan

In a blog post earlier this week, Stan Collender presented a laundry list of suggestions about how deficit hawks can be more effective. As a proud member of that group, we welcome Stan’s advice. Having reviewed the list, we were pleased to find that we already are doing everything that Stan wanted. We’re not sure who Stan is writing about, but it’s obviously not us.

Here’s Stan’s checklist and how the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget measures up:

  • “Advocate aggressively and forcefully for reducing the deficit. Pay-as-you-go rules for new proposals are important, but existing programs already in the baseline shouldn’t get a free pass.”

Check – Sure, we were for PAYGO before favoring PAYGO was sexy, (see here, here, here, and here), but we also regularly call for entitlement reform, tax reform, and discretionary spending control.

  • “But understand that there are times, like when the economy is in the tank, that reducing the deficit or running a surplus is the wrong fiscal policy.”

Check - We have written extensively on how there are times where deficits are good (see here) and that Deficit reduction should phase in slowly once the economy has recovered so as not to destabilize an economic recovery (see here and here).

  • “Be the one that helps define when a deficit is appropriate. One of the most important contributions hawks can make will be to communicate this so that it becomes the common wisdom…”

Check - Devoted an entire paper to it (see Good Deficit/Bad Deficit from our Fiscal Roadmap Project).

  • “Don’t allow the deficit to be a partisan issue. Both political parties frequently use the deficit as an excuse whenever they oppose something but don’t want to state the real reason for the opposition.”

Check - We certainly don't do that, and our bipartisan credentials are solid. CRFB's board is about as bipartisan as it gets. It represents views from both sides of the aisle, bringing together budget experts with different political beliefs but who all share a common interest in getting deficits and the debt to sustainable levels.

We agree some budget experts do seem to use different standards for the two different parties.

  • “Advocate as forcefully for debt reduction as deficit reduction when it makes sense economically.”

You guessed it, CHECK - The newly released Red Ink Rising from the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform discusses the importance of focusing on debt and not just deficits, as the debt level could negatively affect the credit ratings on U.S. debt instruments, interest rates throughout the economy, and threatens budget flexibility to respond to emergencies.

So, thank you Stan for pointing out everything that “real, substantively based” deficit hawks should be doing.