December 22, 2014

House Majority Leader Warns of Challenges in Attacking Long-Term Deficits

  • The national debt has grown significantly in recent years due to rising annual deficits. A deficit occurs in any year the government spends more...

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer stirred considerable discussion in Washington with a thoughtful speech last week emphasizing the need to develop a credible long-term deficit reduction plan even as the economic recovery continued.

Such a plan, he said, could provide better context for considering things like whether to permanently extend certain tax cuts. And he challenged fellow lawmakers to take a realistic look at the forces that were driving long-term structural deficits.

“Unfortunately, we can blame our long-term deficit on policies that are almost universally popular,” Hoyer said. “We’re lying to ourselves and our children, however, if we say we can maintain our current levels of entitlement spending, defense spending and taxation without bankrupting our country.”

A panel discussion that followed Hoyer’s speech and subsequent commentary explored a number of important issues on the federal budget, as noted in a blog posting by Joshua Gordon, policy director for The Concord Coalition. Gordon argues that members of Congress generally know what needs to be done but lack the political courage to act.

The United States is hardly alone in worrying about high deficits, as last weekend's international gathering in Toronto -- the G-20 meeting -- made clear. The national leaders there endorsed cutting government deficits in half by 2013.