This agreement is the beginning of restoring fiscal sustainability. It is a substantial down payment, but not the end of the debate. The government’s ability to make smart, long-term budget choices has long been broken. This gives us a chance to fix it.
The near-term cuts in spending will not materially add to the pressures on the economy. The direct effects of the cuts — using estimates by Macroeconomic Advisors — are about one-tenth of one percentage point of annual GDP growth, far less than the damage that would have been caused by a prolonged impasse, by adopting the budget proposed by Republicans or, certainly, by default.
And by locking in long-term savings, Congress will have more room in the fall to pass additional short-term measures to strengthen the economy — such as extending the payroll tax cut, which provides an average of a thousand dollars to the after-tax incomes of working Americans; extending unemployment benefits; and financing infrastructure investments. After all, strengthening growth and putting more Americans back to work are among the most important things we can do to improve our fiscal situation today and over the long term.