Economic growth back down around 2 percent, trillion-dollar deficits. . . There was a lot of bold talk about the 2017 tax cuts delivering 3-percent growth for the long term. Republicans have overpromised and underdelivered. Some of our friends on the right have decided that deficits do not matter, that “all this talk about concern for the deficit and the budget has been bogus for as long as it’s been around,” as Rush Limbaugh now says. Public debt does not matter — until it does. You go bankrupt the way you fall in love: “Gradually, then suddenly,” as Ernest Hemingway put it.
We are not in an economic collapse. Growth has slowed, but employment remains strong, and there are other good indicators. We are not in a fiscal crisis, either: Interest rates remain low, and there is no sign that the bond market has lost its appetite for U.S. government debt. It’s not the best economy in U.S. history, but it’s fine. Which is why now is the right time for reform. It would be far better to sort out our fiscal affairs now, while we have time and lots of options, than in a crisis, when we have neither.