Home > posts > If Canada, New Zealand and Post-WWII America Could Do It, Why Not Us Now?
October 19th, 2010 1:33 pm
If Canada, New Zealand and Post-WWII America Could Do It, Why Not Us Now?

In another fascinating article from Reason Magazine, three policy experts explain how governments in Canada, New Zealand and post-WWII America slashed government spending and spurred economic growth.  Each expert highlights the strategies used to achieve the respective financial miracles, but one from Canada deserves special mention:

In assembling these cuts, (Canadian Finance Minister) Paul Martin didn’t follow the usual pattern of consulting interest groups one by one. Instead, he held four televised regional consultations in which various lobbyists, experts, and ordinary citizens contended with one another. Martin also spoke directly to the public about what was needed to turn Canada’s budget around. In October 1994, his Department of Finance published a report, A New Framework for Economic Policy, showing that in order to keep the ratio of debt to GDP from rising, government had to run a substantial surplus on its program budget—that is, have revenues significantly exceeding state expenditures.

Public debates used to be a spectator sport in the civilized world.  (Remember reading about the Lincoln-Douglas debates?)  If Republicans win back control of at least one house of Congress, it would behoove their leadership to find ways to nationalize spending issues with public debates.  And, if members of Congress are too afraid to step forward and defend principles, they should consider sponsoring debates featuring lobbyists, policy wonks and activists.

We all know who votes for whom.  Let’s get them in the same room, on camera and hear their pitch.

Comments are closed.