Did Ben warn against TARP, the bail-outs, or the stimulus spending that got us into this mess?
Official Congressional budget estimates understate the peril of rising debt, Fed chair Ben Bernanke told the Budget Committee on Capitol Hill today.
Warning that our nation's fiscal health has deteriorated appreciably since the onset of the financial crisis and the recession, Bernanke called upon lawmakers to confront the long term fiscal challenges sooner rather than later. If lawmakers don't confront them, they'll find themselves confronted by them.
By definition, the unsustainable trajectories of deficits and debt that the CBO outlines cannot actually happen, because creditors would never be willing to lend to a government with debt, relative to national income, that is rising without limit. One way or the other, fiscal adjustments sufficient to stabilize the federal budget must occur at some point. The question is whether these adjustments will take place through a careful and deliberative process that weighs priorities and gives people adequate time to adjust to changes in government programs or tax policies, or whether the needed fiscal adjustments will come as a rapid and painful response to a looming or actual fiscal crisis.