The Seattle Times editorial board warns against deficit spending:
Washington already borrows billions for capital projects such as roads, ferries and university buildings. These are expensive assets that last many years, and borrowing spreads the cost over the generations.
Borrowing to build a university hall is like borrowing to buy a house. Borrowing to pay salaries of state workers is like taking out a mortgage to buy groceries.
Yeah, well, it depends on what those state workers are being paid to do. For example, if they’re being paid to educate our children, well, that’s a long term, expensive asset that lasts many years too (13 to 26 years to fully educate, a half century or so of productivity). So it kinda makes sense to spread that cost over generations as well, doesn’t it?
For example, study after study shows that investing in universal preschool and early, comprehensive intervention for troubled children and their families, pays off huge financial dividends down the road in the form of higher wages and lower costs. Same holds true of investing in preventative health care. So really, how is borrowing money to pay for a teacher or a vaccine any less justified than borrowing money to pay for a school or a hospital?
Again, I’m not ready to argue that the state should necessarily borrow a couple billion dollars to help ease the pain of this economic downturn, but the knee jerk arguments against it aren’t very conducive to an informed debate. The issue is not nearly as black and white as the folks at the Times want to make it out to be, and I hope our legislators adopt a more nuanced approach.