Forum on Income Inequality, Fiscal Responsibility

Issue Brief
Monday, October 24, 2016

Economists Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Jared Bernstein said last week that the next president and Congress must address both income inequality and fiscal responsibility. They spoke at a program at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

The program -- “Balancing Incomes, Balancing Budgets: Can Washington Do Both?” -- was moderated by Janet Hook of The Wall Street Journal. It was co-hosted by the institute and The Concord Coalition.

Holtz-Eakin and Bernstein had points of agreement and disagreement, but both emphasized the need for reforms.

“We simply can’t continue to promise this (higher health care and retirement benefits) and collect that (lower tax revenues),” Bernstein said.

Holtz-Eakin predicted that “someone like me is going to walk over to the Oval Office of the next president and say: ‘Sir/Madam, we have a problem’.”

On income inequality, the two debated the federal government’s proper role. Bernstein advocated more direct job-creation and maintaining a progressive tax code. Holtz-Eakin said tax reform was necessary, noting the need to foster an environment of prosperity. Both saw a need for concentrated anti-poverty efforts.
 
On fiscal responsibility, they agreed more should be done to curb health care costs in Medicare and to extend the solvency of Social Security. They also agreed that compromise was necessary, with both revenues and future benefits under review.
 
External links: Incomes, Balancing Budgets: Can Washington Do Both?” (Video)