Max Sawicky gives Jason the keys to MaxSpeak. Jason takes it out for a spin, and admits to being puzzled by Greg Mankiw:
MaxSpeak, You Listen!: NOT SUCH A PRETTY PICTURE
by Jason Furman: My friend Greg Mankiw says we shouldn't be worried about the current fiscal [deficit] situation, just the looming fiscal challenge. I'm not quite sure what to make of the statement, back in the Clinton administration our argument for running large [current] surpluses and reducing the debt was precisely to prepare for the looming fiscal challenges...
Jason's right. The appropriate stance for fiscal policy right now is not to have--as Mankiw maintains--a debt-to-GDP level equal to some historical average, but to have a low debt-to-GDP ratio in order to be well-positioned for the stresses that the next two generations of population aging and rising medical capabilities place on the federal budget.
It's not rocket science.