HKS Authors

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"Cut!" "Keep!" "Abolish!" "Preserve!" Such is what passes for political discourse these days. The noise and nastiness building toward the looming debt-ceiling deadline will be merely the overture for a symphony of squabbles lasting, at a minimum, through 2012. In the short run, the odds are long against comity and compromise. The real question concerns what kind of America we’ll be once the dust settles. Forbidding scenarios abound. A deeply divided country—millions plunging into misery through shredded safety nets while the wealthy few wall themselves off from the consequences of public austerity—is the liberal nightmare. A stagnant, sclerotic America, with enterprise dulled by sky-high taxes, is the conservative counterpart. There are multiple paths to national decline. But we envision a better path toward a different destination, an updated version of age-old American gumption and resilience.


Donahue, John D., and Richard Zeckhauser. "Beyond Big or Small Government." National Journal, May 17, 2011.