Alice Rivlin, who is happy to call herself a "budget scold," warns that the rising federal debt is going to be "a real tsunami if we don't get ahead of it." But putting the federal budget back in balance without stalling a still-fragile economy is a huge challenge. We can start, Rivlin says, by trimming outmoded federal programs and increasing revenue over the long term by raising the retirement age for Social Security and means-testing Medicare benefits. "We can't get out of this problem without doing both spending cuts, especially slowing the growth of entitlement, and tax increases."
Rivlin, a Harvard-trained economist and Brookings Institution senior fellow, is the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and a former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
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