Social Policy After the Economic Crisis;
Maya MacGuineas, Director of the Fiscal Policy Program at New America and President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, argued that the economic crisis is revealing the deep cracks in our existing social insurance system. Although the focus right now is on stimulus and economic growth, we must start talking about our institutions and how to update them. The federal budget deficit will reach at least $1 trillion next year, MacGuineas said, and policymakers need to review the budget line-by-line and think hard about how we are going to pay for it all. Because most of our money currently goes towards “mandatory spending programs,” these programs cannot be ignored when we rethink the budget. MacGuineas would like to link stimulus and long-term entitlement reform. The sums of current stimulus proposals are so large as to enable major, lasting investments in our economy. We should borrow money now, MacGuineas argued, but offset costs once the economy is stabilized. Without neglecting the importance of greater individual responsibility, we must think about vulnerable populations in our country right now--children and those hurt by globalization. Government must become more progressive, and focus its limited resources on those that need them most. The current economic climate demands major reforms, MacGuineas concluded, and the national discussion about the most appropriate policy choices is just beginning.