160 Economists and Policy Experts Call for Comprehensive Deficit Reduction

Despite a growing chorus of debt deniers, most economics continue to agree that putting in place a long-term plan to responsibly address our growing debt would help promote long-term economic growth and stability.

Today, the Fix the Debt campaign released a letter signed by 160 economists and thought leaders and sent to President Obama and House and Senate leadership. The letter called for a smart and gradual deficit reduction plan, that includes tax and entitlement reform. Signatories of the letter include former Chairmen of the Federal Reserve, former members of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, former directors of the Office of Management and Budget, former directors of the Congressional Budget Office, former Treasury secretaries, a number of academic economists and other experts in the field. They write:

Dear President Obama, Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Reid, Democratic Leader Pelosi, and Republican Leader McConnell:

We are writing to urge you to continue the work of addressing our nation's economic challenges and our mounting debt burden.

Promoting an economic expansion that accelerates job creation, while at the same time addressing the long-term debt challenge, will require that we change our current approach to fiscal issues.

Rather than indiscriminate cuts to just one part of the budget, we need a smart and gradual debt reduction plan that will promote long-term growth and stability. By enacting a comprehensive plan now that reforms the tax code and addresses the largest drivers of our fiscal problems over the long term, policymakers could avoid the negative effects of abrupt cuts, sustain key investments in productive public programs, and simultaneously set a more sustainable trajectory for the nation’s debt—creating a virtuous cycle of growth and budgetary responsibility.

While the recent Budget Control Act and American Tax Relief Act represent progress, we believe there is a need for substantial further deficit reduction if the country is to remain economically strong. This is especially true over the long-run, where rising health care costs and changing demographics threaten to drive our national debt to unprecedented levels.

We encourage you, our nation’s leaders, to identify a combination of spending reductions and tax and entitlement reforms sufficient to put the national debt on a downward path relative to the size of our economy. With a well-designed deficit reduction package, we can reassure markets and employers, grow our middle class, and restore faith in our political system.

On the other hand, failing to act could very well jeopardize our economic prosperity and the future of key programs on which millions of Americans rely—both today and for generations to come.

While we may find differences of opinion about the specific policies that should be included in any plan, we all agree on the need for significant additional progress on this front.

Policymakers should enact a plan as soon as possible to improve our fiscal trajectory, grow the economy and put the debt on a more sustainable path.

The full letter and list of signers can be found here.

Update: blog updated at 3:55pm on 3/15/2013