Gregg and Rendell Urge Lawmakers to Fix the Debt
In an op-ed in POLITICO, Campaign to Fix the Debt co-chairs Judd Gregg and Ed Rendell introduce the Campaign and explain its purpose. They start off by laying out where our fiscal state is and where it is heading.
The numbers are daunting to even the most calloused economic observer. Over the past 40 years our national debt has averaged less than 40 percent of GDP - it now stands at over 70 percent. Without significant, fundamental and comprehensive reforms, the debt will reach 90 percent of the economy within 10 years and exceed 250 percent by the early 2040s. These crippling levels of debt threaten the strength of our economy, our standard of living, and the next generations’ access to the hope and opportunity we have come to accept as an American birthright. We can fix this problem, but we need to act now.
It’s no secret how we got here. Elected officials from both parties have made commitments that exceeded available resources, hoping that another Congress or another generation would foot the bill. That’s neither realistic nor fair and it’s a recipe for a very unpleasant economic reckoning.
They note that we aren't close to the same situation yet as some of the European countries that have had to impose upfront austerity, and that solving our problem would not require changes that severe. With timely action, we could make targeted changes that are more backloaded to protect the recovery. The key, though, is gaining support for a bipartisan plan of this sort, which is the ultimate purpose of the Campaign.
We have joined together for this campaign to call on policymakers from both sides of the aisle to determine the best way to gradually and intelligently bring our debt under control. The solutions won’t be easy - they will require some combination of cuts to low-priority spending, controls on the growth of entitlements to make them sustainably solvent, and revenue-raising tax reform. We simply cannot afford all the promises we’ve made. But if we do this right, we can make reforms in a way that protects the most vulnerable, prioritizes important investments in areas like infrastructure and education, and enhances economic growth.
Our measure of success will be the passage of a deal that restores the faith of the American people in our ability to come together for a higher purpose, and the faith of the financial markets in the federal government’s commitment to a realistic and sustainable fiscal policy.