Thanks to Jared Bernstein for alerting me – us – to a speech delivered by Larry Summers, President Emeritus of Harvard University, Chief Economist at the World Bank, Clinton-era Secretary of the Treasury and, mostly recently the director of the National Economic Council. At a recent conference sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Summers expounded on the ongoing, mystifying obsession with a deficit that is falling. He said in part:
Somehow, the people who are worried about the deficit think that they’ve got some kind of monopoly on morality in terms of the way we care about our children. I’m here to tell you that from the point of view of my children I am a lot more worried about bequeathing them no investments in the advancement of science, bequeathing them a vast bill for deferred maintenance, bequeathing them a starved public sector that no longer functions because of attrition of all the most able civil servants, than I am bequeathing them paper debt that’s accumulating interest at less than 1 percent in real terms.