The Question for Biden: How to Pay the Bills?

Blog Post
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

President Biden began rolling out his first budget this week and on Facing the Future, we took a look at why it matters and how he might pay for new proposals. Joining me on the show were experts from two of Washington’s most respected think tanks; Jim Capretta, a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Isabel Sawhill, a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. My colleague Tori Gorman, Concord’s Policy Director, joined the conversation as well.

A lot of issues are in play right now so Tori and I invited our guests to weigh-in on topics such as the breakdown of the budget process, whether to extend a number of expiring tax and spending provisions (and at what cost?), raising the minimum wage, investing in the “care economy,” and the push for higher taxes.

“Where are we at this point fiscally?” Capretta asked. “In a certain sense, I’m not even sure the policy community really knows. So much has been done and now there’s talk about a huge package of infrastructure and new taxes. So you need a budget. Someone needs to put it all together in a big picture and say ‘where are we going with all this?’ We’re already in deep trouble fiscally, so how does this all fit within the larger fiscal problems the country has? Someone has to start talking about that and hopefully the President’s budget does that to some degree.”

Sawhill said, “I very much welcome President Biden’s emphasis on human infrastructure and what they call the ‘care economy.’ We’re becoming a care economy both because we are aging and because women hold half of all payroll jobs in the economy. And so, most people have to struggle with balancing both work and family.”

She did not, however, argue for a deficit-financed approach beyond what may be needed to provide relief during the pandemic. While supporting spending restraint in major programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, she noted that, “It’s absolutely essential that we raise taxes. We’re a wealthy country and we have a lot of inequality.”

 Also this week, in my Looking Out commentary, I noted some truly eye-popping numbers in a new GAO report that show how much we’d need to cut spending or raise revenues each year from projected levels just to keep the debt-to-GDP ratio the same in 30 years as it is today. It’s not a pretty picture.

Hear more on Facing the FutureI host the program each week on WKXL, NHTalkRadio.com (N.H.), and it is also available via podcast. Join me and my guests as we discuss issues relating to national fiscal policy with budget experts, industry leaders, and elected officials. Past broadcasts are available here. You can subscribe to the podcast on SpotifyPandoraiTunesGoogle PodcastsStitcher or with an RSS feed. Follow Facing the Future on Facebook, and watch videos from past episodes on The Concord Coalition YouTube channel.