Kent Conrad and Rob Portman: It isn’t hopeless. We can fix our debt and deficit problems.

Kent Conrad is a former senator, former Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and a director of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Rob Portman is a former senator and former director of the Office of Management and Budget. They recently wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post, an excerpt of which is below.

With mere days to go until a likely government shutdown, our political divides are again raising questions about whether we can face our problems and govern ourselves. The two parties cannot agree on spending reductions or revenue increases to avert a fiscal crisis. 

And it is a crisis: The deficit has doubled in the past year, and the national debt — some $33 trillion, owned in large measure by foreigners — is diminishing our standing in the world. It is immoral to leave this level of debt to our children and grandchildren, and it is already affecting our economy. It’s no coincidence that the recent surge in deficits and debt has been followed by a period of high inflation and rising interest rates. The recent decision by the rating agency Fitch to downgrade our debt and the threat by Moody’s this week to do the same, risks locking us into even higher interest rates and deficit spending. Both agencies cited the inability of Washington to address the fiscal crisis.

But this is not a hopeless situation. Americans and their leaders still have some cards to play. With the political system unable to address the fiscal crisis, it is time to try an approach that removes some of our divisive politics from the picture: Congress must establish a bipartisan commission to put the country on a sustainable fiscal path.

Read the entire piece here.

Published works by members or staff of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget do not necessarily reflect the views of all members or staff of the Committee.