Why liberals would be making a mistake by ignoring debt reduction 

Many liberals have been resisting efforts to address the debt because they support bigger government and their ideology tells them that cutting deficits will hinder growth at a time when the economy is already weak. Others cynically believe it will will benefit Democrats if they can keep attacking Republican proposals without offering an alternative that itself could become a target. Whatever the reason, liberals ignore the issue at their own peril.

One of the broad lessons we've learned from history is that the side that wins the ideological battle is often simply the one that has the ready made solution at the time a crisis hits. For decades, Keynesian economics dominated public policy, but when stagflation came along in the 1970s, it had no answers to give – but supply-side economics did. When the financial crisis hit in the fall of 2008, the bailout advocates got what they wanted even though most people hated what they were proposing. Ultimately, there was a massive panic and a bunch of people with all the right credentials said, if you do this, you could avert a Great Depression.

In a similar vein, I've always thought that conservatives made a huge mistake by not applying free market solutions to our nation's health care system when they had the chance. Instead, conservatives only became engaged in the issue when Democrats were proposing to do something (see the HillaryCare and ObamaCare  debates). One of the strongest arguments liberals had against Republicans during the  debate over national health care, was, if their ideas on health care are so much better, why didn't they pursue them when they were in control of government? Republicans could offer no response to that.

Liberals may want to avoid a debate over the nation's long-term debt crisis, but undoubtedly, if nothing is done to alter our current course, that crisis will hit. And if liberals have not rallied around their own alternative by then, Paul Ryan will have his day -- if for no other reason than it'll be the only show in town.

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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