WSJ; Notable & Quotable: Ben Bernanke Speaking To Japan Society Of Monetary Economics, May 31, 2003

In economics textbooks, the idea that people will save rather than spend tax cuts  because of the implied increase in future tax obligations is known as the principle of Ricardian equivalence. In general, the evidence for Ricardian equivalence in real economies is mixed, but it seems most likely to apply in a situation like that prevailing today in Japan, in which people have been made highly aware of the potential burden of the national debt.

The principle of Ricardian equivalence does not apply exactly to increases in government purchases (for example, road building) but it may apply there approximately. If, for example, people think that government spending projects are generally wasteful and add little to national wealth or productivity, then taxpayers may view increased government spending as simply increasing the burden of the government debt that they must bear. If, as a result, they react to increases in government spending by reducing their own expenditure, the net stimulative effect of fiscal actions will be reduced.