Forgive Us Our Debts: The Intergenerational Dangers of Fiscal Irresponsibility

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In this immensely timely book, Andrew Yarrow brings the sometimes eye-glazing discussion of national debt down to earth, explaining in accessible terms why federal debt is rising (and will soon rise much faster), what effects it may have on Americans if debt is not brought under control, why our government borrows, and what it will take to pay it all back.

The picture Yarrow paints should concern all Americans. Specifically, he brings to light how rising Medicare, Social Security, and other spending on one hand, and insufficient government revenues on the other, make a mockery of fiscal responsibility. Deficits and debt, Yarrow asserts, are crowding out spending on needed investments in science, environment, infrastructure, and other domestic discretionary programs and could severely harm our nation’s and our citizens’ future. But he makes clear that this does not have to be a doomsday scenario. If we act in a bipartisan fashion to restore fiscal health, our legacy to the next generation can be much more than trillions of dollars of IOUs.

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Editorial Reviews

Dr. C. Eugene Steuerle
“Andrew Yarrow blends his skills as a journalist, historian, and policy insider to address issues absolutely critical to our future and that of our children. Don’t just read it; make sure your neighbor does, as well.”—Dr. C. Eugene Steuerle, co-director, Urban Institute–Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, and former deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury under President Reagan
Jared Bernstein
"There's good debt and bad debt. Either can be handled responsibly or left for others to worry about. God grant us the wisdom to recognize the difference and to do the right thing. Meanwhile, read Andrew Yarrow's uniquely clear-eyed look at the issue."—Jared Bernstein, Director of the Living Standards Program, Economic Policy Institute
Charles Kolb
"Andrew Yarrow's Forgive Us Our Debts should be mandatory reading for everyone who cares about America's future economic health. Andrew's concise, clearly written prose explains why deficits really do matter, for all of us, and for our children and grandchildren.”—Charles Kolb, President, The Committee for Economic Development
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300123531
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 933,376
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew L. Yarrow is vice president and Washington director of Public Agenda, and teaches modern U.S. history at American University. A longtime former reporter for the New York Times, Dr. Yarrow has published extensively during the last 25 years, including Latecomers: Children of Parents Over 35, frequent op-eds, and many popular and scholarly articles.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
The View from Washington: Six Democrats and Six Republicans Talk About Debt     xi
What Are Deficits and Debt, and Why Are They Growing?     1
Balancing and Unbalancing Our Budget: A History of Government Debt in the United States     28
How Deficits Are Funded     48
How Deficits and Debt Affect America and You     58
The Potential Dangers of Doing Nothing, or Fiddling While Our Economy Goes Up in Smoke     70
The Politics of Deficits and Debt     81
What Can and Should Be Done to Reduce America's Deficits and Debt?     93
Concluding Thoughts: A Nation That Balances Its Books and a Government That Invests in America's Future     133
Notes     139
Index     166

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    A reviewer

    We are faced with a myriad of pending catastrophes, from global warming to a nuclear winter. But perhaps one the biggest, but least often reported dangers is the pending economy meltdown as a result of retiring Baby boomers---the largest population yet to exit our national stage. I should know I¿m one of the graying Boomers. But unlike the other potential disasters which face us, there is no real debate here. It will happen as a matter of natural fact. In reality, it is already happening as the first wave of ¿My Generation¿ begins to retire. Our children, their children, and even their children face a staggering debt which will¿not could---cripple their economy and subsequent quality of life. We currently have the power to solve this dilemma, but lack the collective willpower. Why? In an effort to fully understand the magnitude and consequences of our current domestic economic policy in layman¿s terms, I turned to Andrew L. Yarrow¿s book, ¿Forgive Us Our Debts: The Intergenerational Dangers of Fiscal Irresponsibility¿. I won¿t kid you, it¿s a tough subject, but Yarrow has done a great job of explaining how we got to where we are where we¿re going and what we can do about it short term and down the road. Yarrow offers excellent examples, backed by current data to support his arguments in an easy to understand format. So, if you¿re like me and want to know for the sake of your children and their future, where we¿re headed, I strongly recommend ¿Forgive Us Our Debts¿ by Andrew L. Young.

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