The One Question That Should Be Asked at Tonight's Debate but Certainly Won't

A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 11 2012 7:51 PM

The One Question That Should Be Asked at Tonight's Debate but Certainly Won't

110585671
Vice President Joe Biden

Photograph by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Here's one question I'm all but certain won't be asked tonight but really should: Given that both tickets are running on rival deficit reduction plans, could you explain to the American people what problem in the typical person's life today would be ameliorated by a smaller deficit?

I think the right answer is: Nothing. Not because the deficit never matters. There are some times in American history when one could credibly say that deficit reduction would make it cheaper and easier for a person to get a mortgage (or refinance an existing one) or a small business loan. There might be a time when you could say that deficit reduction would strengthen the value of the dollar and raise the average person's real purchasing power. But today? I think nothing. And yet politicians who are eager to shoehorn their long-term economic policy preferences into a deficit reduction frame are almost never asked to explain why deficit reduction is important.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 16 2014 11:56 AM Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 10:17 AM How Jack Ma Founded Alibaba
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 16 2014 8:00 AM The Wall Street Bombing: Low-Tech Terrorism in Prohibition-era New York
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 16 2014 12:05 PM Slim Pickings at the Network TV Bazaar Three talented actresses in three terrible shows.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 12:01 PM More Than 3 Million Told the FCC What They Think About Net Neutrality. Why Hasn't Obama?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.