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The Boston Globe


Juliette Kayyem

Fear the grid

The US must balance fiscal cautionary tales from Greece and India

As the United States grapples with competing visions of how to balance its budget and limit expenditures, two words define the philosophy of those who seek to cut government spending without raising taxes: Fear Greece. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has warned that America is heading down Greece’s path of budget crises and even social unrest unless our massive debt is controlled. “Next year, the United States could be like Greece,” Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions has cautioned, alluding to the nation that has so overspent it can no longer pay its bills and may bring the rest of Europe down with it.

If politics is image, then Athens has become the poster child against government spending. Ignoring the differences between the United States and Greece is convenient. But it means that critics of this conservative-inspired debt myopia have no alternate narrative, no Greek tragedy of their own to remind the public that spending is a vital part of reinvigorating a nation, creating jobs, and rebuilding infrastructure. Until now. India’s historic power outage this week, leaving nearly 10 percent of the world’s population in the dark, is as much a cautionary tale about delayed investments as Greece’s is about uncontrolled spending. Two words: Fear India.

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