The U.S. has "stolen" almost $60 trillion from its children thanks to accumulated federal budget deficits and Medicare and Social Security policies, but now it's time to get the fiscal house in order, Steven Rattner wrote Thursday at The New York Times.
Rattner, a Wall Street financier who oversaw the Obama administration's auto bailout, said his $60 trillion number is courtesy of the national debt and the "benefits that we awarded ourselves without paying for them."
History proves that chipping away at massive obligations doesn't require immediate austerity, Rattner wrote. For example, in 1983, Congress accepted changes — like raising the retirement age gradually and phasing in tax increase — although the country was suffering under worse economic conditions than today, he argued.
Both Republicans and Democrats have acknowledge the problem of reigning in costs and spending through their budget proposals, Rattner said, but "while the plans are vastly different in philosophy and magnitude, both recognize that long-term deficit reduction must being now."
Both plans are flawed, Rattner said, but with their acknowledgments of fiscal realities, it's time for Congress to replace the sequester with pro-growth short-term policies, while also addressing the deteriorating long-term picture.
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