Christina Romer, former chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, and an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, warned recently that deficit reduction, like death and taxes, is coming. In a recent Op-Ed in the New York Times she wrote, "Deficit reduction is coming, and this election will most likely determine how it's done." Mitt Romney has come out with a new narrative-of-the-week that the last four years represent a run-up of big government spending. That's not true by many measures. The run-up began with TARP on W's watch and continued with a stimulus package that a majority of economists agree probably averted a new Great Depression. It was no joy ride, as Romney would have us believe.
Romer maintains "honest talk about the deficit is risky." That, too, is true. What no one is telling us is that our choice is that of Greek style austerity on the one hand and broad tax increases on the other. While Romney attacks Obama without presenting his own plan, Obama has offered more concrete plans to cut the deficit when the time is right. We should understand that without a robust recovery no time is a good time. Yet, we cannot stand by waiting forever for a new economy to rescue us when the clock is ticking on our long-term debt bomb. Odds are that given two to three more years of a weak recovery, we will need to shift gears, cut spending, and start to pay back the cost of two ill-advised wars, the stimulus, and pay down the bill on underfunded entitlements. Who do you want to do that?
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