The politics of fiscal responsibility

Economist Diane Lim Rogers

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The latest midterm election polls show Democrats may lose control of Congress. Conservatives have been campaigning on the theme of financial responsibility, given our nation's deficits the past several years. It's a popular theme that economist mom Diane Lim Rogers, chief economist at the Concord Coalition, says is easy to talk about, yet so hard to follow through. She's with us now. Good morning, Diane.

DIANE LIM ROGERS: Good morning, Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: I want to start with the Tea Party candidates. A lot of these candidates are promoting smaller government and lower taxes and lesser government deficits. Is their rise a good news for fiscal responsibility?

LIM ROGERS: Unfortunately, I think the Tea Party movement has been more about low taxes and less about the low spending that would be needed to get us to low deficits at the same time.

CHIOTAKIS: House Republicans have put this Pledge to America together, promising fiscal responsibility. Is that a serious plan? Can you look at that and say, "That's fiscal responsibility?"

LIM ROGERS: It is a vague pledge. They don't get specific on the ways that they would actually reduce the deficit or get back to fiscal sustainability over the longer term.

CHIOTAKIS: All right. Let's talk about about the Democrats now and the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of this year. The Democrats argue that the fiscal responsible thing to do would be to allow the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire. Do the Democrats win any award for fiscal responsibility with that idea?

LIM ROGERS: Although it's true that if you let the upper brackets expire, you save about $700 billion over 10 years, you're still choosing to extend most of the Bush tax cuts at a cost of over $2 trillion over those same 10 years.

CHIOTAKIS: Diane, why should people care about this? Why should parents care about fiscal responsibility?

LIM ROGERS: If you care about the future for your children, if you work really hard to save for your kids' education, if you take care of them and take them to doctor's appointments and pay for violin lessons and pay for SAT prep courses, you are working against yourself if at the same time you support candidates that promise things that are really too good to be true. And unfortunately it's going to be our kids that pay for the bills that we are not willing to pay now.

CHIOTAKIS: Diane Lim Rogers, chief economist at the Concord Coalition. She's got a blog, EconomistMom.com. Diane, thanks.

LIM ROGERS: Thanks Steve.

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