Suddenly Washington is filled with proposals for 'debt triggers,' policy devices that would force spending cuts if arbitrary targets aren't met in the future. Everybody's either got one or wants one: the President, the Republicans, the Gang of Six, and all the usual suspects from the austerity crowd.
Let's not dance around the harsh truth, even though that's exactly what these gimmicks are designed to do: "Triggers" are economic IEDs, set to to explode when their builders have left the scene and can't be blamed for the damage.
For those who might be offended by the analogy, remember: the word trigger is best known as the term for the mechanism that fires a gun, or for the device that sets off a bomb. And in management slang, an executive who can't "pull the trigger" is one who can't make tough decisions. That makes it pretty ironic that these 'debt triggers' are all devices intended to make it seem as if tough decisions are making themselves. They're supposed to absolve our leaders of blame for the consequences of their actions.
Politicians all over the world must be asking themselves, where can I get one of those? more »
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