Managing a national debt addiction

U.S. House of Representatives


Renita Jablonski: In Washington today, House and Senate negotiators will try to sketch out a federal budget for 2009. At the same time, across town, a group of bipartisan budget experts will launch a campaign to wean the government from what they say is a debt addiction. John Dimsdale reports.

John Dimsdale: Ever spend money you haven't got? The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says the government does it all the time. Today, the nonprofit group issues a 12-step program to help politicians deal with their addiction to spending money the government doesn't have.

Maya MacGuineas is the group's president. She says politicians are to blame for deepening deficits -- but they aren't the only ones.

Maya MacGuineas: We also have to ask voters to pay attention to these issues and not be kind of hoodwinked that you can have it all. Nobody really believes that we can have big tax cuts, new spending initiatives, and somehow we're not going to have to pay the price sooner or later.

The bipartisan committee's political stars include former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and former Fed Chief Paul Volcker. They're asking the presidential candidates to make "living within our means" a priority. That includes fixing Social Security and health care, paying for any new spending, and using honest numbers.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.


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