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Robert Kuttner: Economic Recovery Doesn't Come From "Tightening Our Belts"
Economics | May 02, 2013

Robert Kuttner: Economic Recovery Doesn't Come From "Tightening Our Belts"

"The whole view that let's tighten our belts and the economy will recover is just being refuted day after day," economics speaker Robert Kuttner says in a debate hosted by PBS Newshour. With Europe protesting austerity measures in time with May Day, and the American Federal Reserve announcing that government spending is "restraining economic growth," it's clear that Kuttner is not alone in his position on economic recovery. Spending, he says, wasn't the root cause of the deficit. It was a financial crisis on Wall Street that catapulted us into debt. And, if you reduce purchasing power in a depressed economy, he argues that you won't come any closer to improving the debt ratio.

"If you put someone in a debtor's prison you ruin their ability to earn a living," Kuttner also says. "They can't help themselves, they can't help their creditors." Reducing purchasing power has been, as he adds, "a real time experiment in the failure of austerity policies." In his new book, Debtors' Prison, he argues that spending less, refusing to forgive debt, and shrinking government is not the answer to solving our economic crisis. Rather, we need to pull ourselves into a more competitive economic state, get people back to work (which means more people are paying taxes) and increase public spending before we try to tackle the deficit. We need to create and stimulate stable economic growth first. Then, once our economy gets back on track, the debt ratio will begin to balance out of its own accord. And then, Kuttner says, we can tackle the deficit successfully.

Kuttner has made a successful career out of analyzing American political and economic policies. Author of the books Obama's Challenge and A Presidency in Peril, and a seasoned journalist (from BusinessWeek  to The Washington Post and the New England Journal of Medicine), he is an authoritative source in finance and politics. In both his writing and his talks, Kuttner can translate complex issues into accessible commentary. He addresses the issues that affect the nation—and shows audiences how we can make the changes necessary to ensure a prosperous future.
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