Alice Rivlin: In Debt Ceiling Debate, Syria Might Be the Difference This Time

Alice Rivlin, Brookings senior fellow and first director of the Congressional Budget Office, talks on Bloomberg Television about the deficit and the impending debt ceiling debate. In response to the question, “What is different this time?” Rivlin replied:

I hope what’s different is Syria. That it reminds people in Congress that they are at the helm of a great nation that the world is looking to for leadership. … That means we ought to also have our ordinary business of government in hand. The debt ceiling is a silly distraction. … The Congress ought to get serious. They should make a budget for the next fiscal year. Most countries have that. We are hung up on our partisan bickering. And at the same time they need to raise the debt ceiling so we don’t have this ridiculous counterproductive argument again.

Rivlin, who chaired the 2010 debt reduction task force, goes on to say that Congress “has brought the budget deficit down in absolutely the wrong way. … They need to get back to a bargain in which they will say let’s get rid of this ridiculous sequester which cuts the wrong things in the wrong way, and in return make some adjustments in the long run that will bring the deficit down over the next ten years or more.”

She looks ahead to the upcoming budget debate between Congress and the White House. Rivlin hopes that if Congress does not vote to authorize President Obama’s use of military force against Syria it will not have an impact on the ability of Congress to get something done.

Find more Brookings research on the budget deficit.