Jeffrey D. Sachs is Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia. He is the author most recently of The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity and To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace. (February 2014)
Since the first days of the Obama Administration in 2009, Washington has been in a pitched battle over the budget, with endless fights over stimulus packages, temporary tax cuts, spending limits and sequestration, fiscal cliffs, debt ceilings, and government shutdowns. Yet the budget battles have never been quite what they’ve seemed, and the December budget deal worked out between Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray is not a victory of bipartisan reason. Despite all of the budget turmoil over the past five years, the long-term trajectory of the US budget has remained remarkably and dangerously unaltered.
Here is the Romney strategy: since you don’t like what you’ve got, vote for what you haven’t got. Whatever it is you haven’t got, it is better than what you’ve got. That was supposed to be enough to secure election after what we’ve got—Obama’s apparent economic failure. But the Romney campaign is taking what-you-haven’t-got-ism to new heights of what-you-mustn’t-know-ism.
Following the election of a pro-bailout party in Greece on June 17, the new Greek government being formed this week will try once more to negotiate a solution to its intractable debt crisis that will keep it in the eurozone. But how did Greece get into this situation in the first place? Are other countries at risk of falling into the same predicament? In a panel discussion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art earlier this year sponsored by the Review and Fritt Ord, these and other questions were explored by Paul Krugman, Edmund Phelps, Jeffrey Sachs, and George Soros. —The Editors