Bowles and Simpson Launch Moment of Truth Project
In an effort to maintain the momentum created by the President's Fiscal Commission, the commission's co-chairs -- former Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles -- have reunited to create the Moment of Truth Project. Named after the Commission's final report, the project aims to increase awareness of our country's fiscal challenges, educate people about the choices we face in dealing with them, and promote action on reducing the national debt and deficit. It also hopes to use the Fiscal Commission as an example and framework for how bipartisan agreement on a comprehensive fiscal plan is possible -- after all, the final report did get votes from a bipartisan majority of 11 of the 18 commissioners, including 5 Republicans, 5 Democrats, and 1 independent.
The event began with remarks from the co-chairs, who managed to get some laughs from the audience despite the serious nature of the issues. The introductions were followed by speeches from three senators who voted for the Commission plan: Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Kent Conrad (D-ND). All gave high praise to the work of the co-chairs and the report they developed. While they might not agree with everything in the plan, there was strong emphasis on the need to put aside partisan differences and put the best interests of the nation first.
Following these initial speakers was a panel discussion featuring David Gergen (a veteran of political affairs and now a professor at Harvard), Jeffrey Liebman (also a Harvard professor), and Donald Marron (director of the Tax Policy Center). Jeff Liebman called the report an "extraordinary document" because it makes a serious effort to address our deteriorating fiscal outlook and it garnered bipartisan support, making it "politically feasible."
Following the panel discussion and wrapping up the event were remarks from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who also served on the Commission and voted for the final report, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who is leading an effort with Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) as part of the "Gang of Six" trying to craft legislation based on the Commission's recommendations.
The overall message of the event was that the problems we face are serious, but we can solve them if we are willing to work together. Hopefully the Moment of Truth Project will be able to call greater attention to this critical issue and continue to advance the debate. The Commission can and should serve as an example of how lawmakers from opposite ends of the political spectrum can come together and agree on a serious proposal that would get a handle on our unsustainable deficits and debt. There are many plans to choose from, as you can see in CRFB's table of fiscal plans here, but the Moment of Truth proposal is garnering bipartisan support from lawmakers.
We hope Congress and the White House will show true leadership and work to develop, debate, and decide on a credible and comprehensive plan to put us on the path to a sustainable fiscal future.