What’s Needed In The Debt Ceiling Debate: Constructive Ambiguity

by Robert McTeer

Source: Forbes

While I agree with those who argue that we need less government spending rather than higher tax rates, their game of chicken over the debt ceiling makes me very nervous. I'm afraid the other side will win by doing nothing, even though win is not the right word. What we need is something I'll call "constructive ambiguity," or language that will enable both sides to save some face.

In a recent interview on CNBC, my old boss, Alan Greenspan, suggested that something commonly called tax expenditures might serve such a purpose. He mentioned that the recommendations of his Social Security Commission in the 1980s were accepted by both parties in part because they interpreted the change through their different perspectives. I asked him to elaborate, and he gave me permission to quote him as follows:

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