Fiscal policy is out of control. Programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, have design features that push up spending faster than the growth of revenues. It is time to change the course of the automatic pilot driving these programs. To do so, policymakers can develop triggers that automatically curb spending. Triggers will level the playing field between programs that have large automatic growth and those where growth or even maintenance of effort cannot be obtained without new legislation. The paper examines triggers employed to reform Social Security in other advanced democracies and explores design options for an optimal trigger.
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