The debate over the deficit is being crippled by a failure to face up to what we need the government to do, writes EJ Dionne Jr. To have a rational debate about the budget, lawmakers should admit that running a deficit during a time of high unemployment is a good thing, and that government is going to have to grow in the coming decade to make up for private sector shortfalls in health insurance and pensions, Dionne argues in the Washington Post.
America needs to sort out its finances, but it also needs to invest heavily to keep the country competitive, Dionne warns. The debate on debt should be candid about the country's priorities, and the need to pay for them, he writes. Government spending that will mean a better future for the country should be financed over time, "much as successful companies use debt for long-term investments," he writes. "There's smart debt and there's stupid debt. We need to recognize the difference."