美国的财政悬崖居民

华盛顿—2012年初,美联储主席伯南克用“财政悬崖”一词抓住了立法者和公众的眼球。伯南克的出发点是美国人应该担忧联邦税增加和支出削减的双重挤压,按照日程,财政悬崖将在今年年底到来。

但这并不是真正意义上的“悬崖”——迈过界就会跌入万丈深渊,狠狠摔在硬地上,很长一段时间无法恢复元气。在现代美国经济史上,安排好的变化所组成的更多地是财政“斜坡”——增税的全部效应并不会马上感觉得到(收入扣减需要时间来调整),而支出削减也是逐步显现威力(政府在实施方面拥有一定的自由裁量权)。这一斜坡给奥巴马总统提供了现实机会,重塑联邦政府收入基础,达到20世纪90年代中期的水平。

用什么词来形容美国的财政状况是很重要的,因为近几个月来,人们几乎已经变得歇斯底里,因为有人想对美国的两大福利计划——社会保险和医疗保险实施大幅削减。他们的逻辑是,快要跌落悬崖的当口需要非常措施。削减养老金和老年人医保显然属于“非常”范畴——当然也完全是不合适、不必要的。

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