The latest episode of Facing the Future is all about you, our listeners. The Concord Coalition’s Executive Director Robert L. Bixby and Policy Director Josh Gordon answered questions submitted via e-mail and social media.
One listener submitted a question through Facebook concerning the different measurements of the national debt.
“The two main measures of the debt, in terms of dollar figures, are the ‘debt held by the public’ and what we call ‘the gross federal debt’,” said Gordon.
The first phrase -- “debt held by the public” -- refers to what the U.S. government borrows on the open market from both domestic and foreign investors.
“The gross federal debt,” however, includes “debt held by the public” as well as debt that one part of the federal government owes another. The most prominent examples are the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.
Another listener asked about a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
“The Concord Coalition is not pushing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution at this time,” Bixby said. “Amending the Constitution still leaves you with the same ugly policy choices you have to make and no political will to do it.”
“We did prove, by the way, in the 1990s that wise fiscal policy choices on both the spending and tax side -- with some help from the economy -- could indeed close the budget gap and produce the balanced budget,” he said.
Listen to “You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers” to hear more of the program.
Rob Ryan, a research and policy analyst with Concord, joined the program to discuss the downward trend in federal investment spending and the steady growth of “transfer payments.”
I host “Facing the Future” each week on WKXL Concord News Radio (N.H.), which is also available via podcast. Join us as we discuss issues relating to national fiscal policy with budget experts, industry leaders, elected officials and candidates for public office. Past broadcasts are available here. You can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or through RSS.