Tom Keene Talks to Douglas Holtz-Eakin
You used to be with the Congressional Budget Office. Do you have any confidence that we’ve got our deficit dialogue under control?
Not a great deal, to be honest. In the debt ceiling debate, we saw an agreement to keep discretionary spending low over the next decade, but quite frankly that’s only as useful as the future Congresses who enforce it.
Are both parties the same when it comes to handling the debt?
I think that both parties share responsibility for this terrible outlook. Whatever you thought of the Bush Administration’s handling of the budget and the economy, it is certainly the case that we missed a crucial decade in which we made no major changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to make them solvent. So we gave up time, and now the Baby Boom is retiring and it’s hard to fix.
Can we get anything done in this country to create jobs?
I believe there’s a lot of bipartisan support for a reduced tax on repatriated corporate profits. That would bring back $800 billion, maybe $1 trillion of American money that is not helping our economy overseas. It should be brought back and put to work here. And it would be a step towards fixing a broken tax system where we remain the last large economy to tax on a worldwide basis. We are harming our international competitiveness.