Fiddling While Rome Burns

Almost Unnoticed, Bipartisan Budget Anxiety: There were no cameras, not a single microphone, and no evidence of a lawmaker or Bush administration official in the room …

With startling unanimity, they agreed that without some combination of big tax increases and major cuts in Medicare, Social Security and most other spending, the country will fall victim to the huge debt and soaring interest rates that collapsed Argentina's economy and caused riots in its streets a few years ago.

“The only thing the United States is able to do a little after 2040 is pay interest on massive and growing federal debt,” Walker said. “The model blows up in the mid-2040s. What does that mean? Argentina.”

The unity of the bespectacled presenters was impressive — and it made their conclusion all the more depressing. As Ron Haskins, a former Bush White House official and current Brookings scholar, said when introducing the thinkers: “If Heritage and Brookings agree on something, there must be something to it.”

This time around the “fiddling” is the other sort.

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