May 24, 2024

Letters: When the Cupboard Is Bare in Washington

To the Editor:

In an imagined 2026 address to the nation, N. Gregory Mankiw has a future president finally acknowledging that the nation is broke and announcing breathtaking cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education (“The Day the Debt Is Due,” Economic View, March 27). But the column offers nary a word about the costs of military spending or of the national security results of the wars that America has waged since the 21st century began.

What’s most disturbing about this is not Professor Mankiw’s omission of those costs, but the strong possibility that he’s right — that even four election cycles from today, there will still be no national discussion about the military-industrial complex and the futility of war. James R. Kelly

Brooklyn, March 28

To the Editor:

I think that the column painted an accurate, if disturbing, picture of what an American president might have to say 15 years from now. Yet I don’t know if we can last that long. For administration after administration, and Congress after Congress, our Washington worthies of each party have blamed their counterparts across the aisle for kicking the can down the road, leaving the problem of debts and deficits to our children and their children.

Our elected representatives, while striving to please their particular constituents, should remember that they also serve the entire nation — including those who didn’t vote for them. They need to realize that the opposition party might actually have a good idea now and then, and be willing to set aside their “my way or the highway” attitude and perhaps consider open-minded discussions.

I hope to be around in 2026, and I’d like not to hear that presidential speech. Eric Mihan

Oxford, Md., March 28

To the Editor:

The column is compellingly prescient, and a good read. But why, in the avalanche of causes of the nation’s financial problems, is the blame cascaded on social programs? Where is the denunciations of our military financial sinkhole? Of foreign aid programs that help dictators or return as lobbyists’ funding? Of wars and pie-in-the-sky weapons systems? Of the preferences to multinationals that avoid taxes altogether? Of tax cuts to the rich while the working and middle classes suffer death by a thousand budget cuts?

Joseph Springer

San Leandro, Calif., March 27

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