Debt And Deficits: Nostalgia For The 1980s

For decades now, we have known that a combination of the aging of the post-World War II "baby boom" generation combined with rising life expectancies was going to raise the share of elderly Americans. We have also known for decades that primary programs for meeting the needs of this group--like Social Security and Medicare--have made promises that their current funding sources can't support. We have been watching US health care costs rise as a share of GDP For decades. Meanwhile, the US economy has been experiencing slow productivity growth, which makes addressing all problems closer to a zero-sum game.  

Neither during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 nor during the heart of the pandemic recession in 2020 and early 2021 was an appropriate time to focus on the long-term future of government debt. But averting our eyes from the trajectory of the national debt is not a long-term strategy. 

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