“Economist Mom” Warns About Long-Term Federal Spending Crisis

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“This graph is kind of scary,” Diane Lim Rogers said as a slide appeared on the screens in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall.

The graph showed accumulated public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product, starting in the World War II years and projected through the next several decades. The path of the line in coming years rose so sharply that Rogers said it would never actually happen. Something will force a change.

That was the core point of Rogers’ hour-long “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session Oct. 11 at Marquette Law School: We can’t stay on the path we’re on when it comes to trends in federal government revenue and federal government spending. Something will force a change, and it can either come from informed, visionary decision making or it can from the forces that will change things in any case, and perhaps not so gently.

Rogers is chief economist for the Concord Coalition, a national non-partisan organization formed by Republican and Democratic leaders who want to see what they call “generationally responsible fiscal policy.”  

Rogers has been with the organization since 2008. She worked previously in positions including chief economist for the House Budget Committee and research director of the Budgeting for National Priorities project at the Brookings Institution. She has worked for several Democratic elected officials, but she told Gousha she was usually the one around a table who said, How are we going to pay for this?

In several ways, Rogers outlined the depth and causes of federal budget problems and said most of the solutions that are being proposed now are not enough to resolve things. That includes eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in federal spending and making cuts in federal programs that are ultimately not going to save enough money. Bolder steps on an array of fronts and including changes in major federal spending areas such as Medicare are needed, she said.

Rogers said she thinks the general population has the will to make such changes, but politicians don’t seem to think so and fear that dealing seriously with the long-term issues would cost them votes. She compared many political leaders to customers at a big box store who see an attractive product on sale that requires no cash down and has attractive payments for the first couple years. They naively and optimistically buy it, without thinking about the long term high price they’ll pay.

Rogers, who has four children, writes a blog, economistmom.com,  (“because I’m an economist and a mom, that’s why,” as the blog says). It has been praised by the Wall Street Journal. Her session with Gousha may be viewed by clicking here.

 

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One Response to ““Economist Mom” Warns About Long-Term Federal Spending Crisis”

  1. Comments on federal spending are like comments on the weather. One can predict but never really know what will happen. It’s all funny money anyway. It has no intrinsic value. It is interesting that when talking about cutting, it is always for social welfare programs. It is never about defense spending/security which is now about $1 trillion a year. As for the courts, lawyers are pikers compared to the health care industrial complex. Doctors feed off a multi-trillion dollar health care system while lawyers look for pennies.

    It is clear that no one has any real answers and no one is willing to do anything about it. Before Reagan, we had a manageable debt. He set forth a crazy theory that cutting taxes and increasing spending would lead to balanced budgets. Alas, in his 8 years in office he never had one even close to being balanced. Then Bush II came along and Obama and now we have a massive national debt. Again, it’s play money. We should either monetize the debt or declare a debt jubilee. If not, the riots we see on TV in Greece and Spain will occur here. Ironically, politicians are almost irrelevant. Banksters and Wall Street run this county, not Congress, the president or the court.

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