A Nation in Debt
How Can We Pay the Bills? (2014)
Tony Wharton Noelle McAfee
Kettering Foundation Press
OverviewThis issue book asks: What should we do about the national debt? In addressing it, we have many things to consider and weigh. This book lays out three possible options to approach the national debt. Each suggests actions that we might take to address it, but every action has trade-offs we should consider. By working through each option, we can come to our own individual and collective decisions about what we would support and under what conditions. The guide presents three options for deliberation: Agree to Make Sacrifices Now We need to compromise on our differences and act now to reduce the national debt. If this generation doesn't make needed sacrifices, we're simply passing the burden to the next generation. It's time to face this urgent problem. We need to raise taxes and cut spending; neither will get the job done alone. Strengthen Checks and Balances We cannot just hope that personal discipline and basic legislative safeguards will control the urge to spend. Taxpayers willingly accept more benefits than government can afford and both major political parties are too willing to help us dig this hole. Our top priority should be to make systemic changes to increase fiscal responsibility. Invest in Growth First We need to encourage economic growth and invest in research, development, infrastructure, and science education. Growing the economy will boost tax revenues, make the debt more manageable, and will be better for the country in the long run. Drastic cost-cutting measures would likely harm the economy as it tries to recover.
Author BioTony Wharton is a former newspaper reporter who has written about public policy issues and deliberation for more than 20 years. He was the editor of “Journalism as a Democratic Art: Selected Essays by Cole C. Campbell,” a 2012 publication of Kettering Foundation Press. He and his family live in Richmond, Virginia.
Noëlle McAfee, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Emory University
President, Emory University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors
Editor of the Kettering Review