I have to constantly remind my readers that I am a non-ideological fiscal conservative. I simply want our national leaders to address our two most serious fiscal and economic problems which are:
- Massive Debt. Our (public, on which we pay interest) debt is now 75% of GDP, the largest since WWII and steadily getting worse. When interest rates go up, as they surely will before long, interest payments on the debt will increase by hundreds of billions of dollars per year and become a huge drain on the federal budget, eventually leading to a new financial crisis, much worse than the last one.
- Slow Economic Growth. The economy has grown at the average rate of only 2.1% since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009. Such slow growth means fewer new jobs for the unemployed and underemployed and smaller raises for all workers.
My last several posts, here and here have pointed out that neither of our two main presidential candidates is adequately addressing these issues. Both of them claim that they want faster growth but their policy proposals will just make our humongous debt even worse.
So I was quite surprised by a column in yesterday’s New York Times by Thomas Friedman, “How Clinton could knock Trump out,” trying to “push Clinton to inject some capitalism into her economic plan.” Says Mr. Friedman:
- Clinton could be reaching out to center-right (and anti-Trump) Republicans with a real pro-growth, start-up, deregulation, entrepreneurship agenda.
- If Clinton wins, she will need to get stuff done, not just give stuff away.
- The concerns of the Sanders supporters with fairness and inequality can only be addressed with economic growth; the rising anti-immigration sentiments can be defused only with economic growth; the general anxiety feeding Trumpism can be eased only with economic growth.
Conclusion. I am pleased to hear such sensible thoughts from one of the leading columnists of the NYT. If Clinton wins the election (as I expect) and if the Republicans continue to hold the House of Representatives (as I fervently hope), there could be much common ground for constructing an intelligent agenda going forward.