GovInsights: What We Need Right Now — Spending Cuts, Higher Taxes and Closer Friends

This interview marks the second of a brand new series on GovLoop called “GovInsights” where we are interviewing and highlighting the thoughts and perspectives of professors at colleges and universities who are teaching, researching and writing about government issues.

This time, we talked to Dr. Eric Langenbacher, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Government at the Georgetown University. He has also planned and run dozens of short programs on various aspects of U.S. politics and society for visitors from abroad. At Georgetown University he teaches courses on comparative politics, political culture and political films.

Julia: What are the 3 biggest challenges that government faces today?

Dr. Langenbacher:

1. Infrastructure: The U.S. is falling behind our competitors in terms of providing public infrastructures that will sustain our standard of living and allow our private enterprises to prosper.

2. Finances: Politicians must get public finances and borrowing under control — cuts in many sacrosanct policy areas are necessary (defense, healthcare, social security) and probably tax increases.

3. Managing Decline: If you like it or not the preeminent power that the US has experienced since the end of the Cold War is waning with the rise of a multi-polar world. Decline is always difficult to manage, but this is the preeminent foreign policy challenge of the next few decades and policymakers must not evade the responsibility.

Julia: What are your proposed solutions?

Dr. Langenbacher:

1. Reprioritize: Spending decisions should free some money for investment in infrastructure. Certain taxes (federal gas tax) and user fees (a surcharge on utilities) will have to rise to pay for this.

2. Politicians: They will have to make electoral sacrifices to push through controversial cuts in spending and benefits. Bush-era tax cuts must be rescinded and/or new revenue sources (a national VAT) will be necessary.

3. The US: The US will have to spurn almost all instances of unilateralism. Older alliances like NATO should be reinvigorated and newer structures should be created. The U.S. government should lead balancing efforts against rising, possible threatening powers like China and Russia.


Previous GovInsights:


Dr. Eric Langenbacher is a Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of Honors and Special Programs in the Department of Government, Georgetown University where he also received his PhD in 2002. He teaches a variety of courses on comparative and American politics. He was awarded a Fulbright grant in 1999-2000 and held the Ernst Reuter Fellowship at the Free University of Berlin in 1999-2000, and was voted faculty member of the year by the graduating seniors of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in 2009. Book projects include, Power and the Past: Collective Memory and International Relations (Georgetown University Press, 2010), From the Bonn to the Berlin Republic: Germany at the Twentieth Anniversary of Unification (Berghahn Books, 2010); Rightward Shift: Manager Merkel, Economic Crisis and the 2009 Bundestag Election (Berghahn Books, 2010). He has planned and run dozens of short programs for groups from abroad on a variety of topics pertaining to American and European politics, culture and public policy. He is also Managing Editor of German Politics and Society, which is housed in Georgetown’s BMW Center for German and European Studies.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions here represent Eric Langenbacher’s own and not the ones of his employer or affiliated associations and institutions.

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply