"Fiscal Responsibility First"?
By Arnold Kling
According to the Washington Post (editorial page), this is future President Hillary Clinton on Social Security:
“I’m not putting anything on the proverbial table until we move toward fiscal responsibility,” she said during Wednesday’s debate
I really have not been following the campaign, but I saw on Greg Mankiw’s blog that she proposed some sort of “baby bond” that is yet another unfunded liability.
I have this quaint definition of fiscal responsibility as anything that reduces government liabilities to bring them into line with realistic expectations of tax revenues. The future President’s definition of fiscal responsibility appears to be that long-term liabilities of the government do not matter at all. If a corporate president were to defiantly announce that he planned to do nothing about the corporation’s long-term liabilities until the short-term profit picture improved, I do not think his company’s stock would do very well.
I am not saying that future President Clinton’s future defeated opponents are necessarily any less irresponsible. Or that the voters care. Or that Medicare’s unfunded liability is not at least as big a third rail.
When I was about 6 years old, a neighbor challenged me to a fight. Not wanting to take him up, but not wanting to appear unmanly, I attempted to adopt a tough-guy sneer as I spat out, “What if I said I was chicken?”
“Fiscal responsibility first” sounds to me like chickening out with a tough-guy sneer.