MY VIEW: Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson August 2011
In an op-ed in today's New York Times, CRFB board members and former fiscal commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Sen. Alan Simpson offered their take on the debt-ceiling deal that was enacted into law yesterday.
While Bowles and Simpson are pleased that the nation did not default and that the plan offers some deficit reduction, they note that it is merely a step forward, not a solution. They write that the U.S. needs at least $4 trillion in deficit reduction this decade in order to avoid a fiscal crisis and that the "big ticket" items--such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and tax reform--must also be addressed. They continue:
To do all this, the new committee must be bipartisan and bold. It must resist the temptation to simply recommend the bare minimum necessary to avert the next crisis instead of truly dealing with our long-term fiscal problem. The leaders of Congress must appoint members who will come to the committee with a willingness to reach a principled compromise that puts national interests ahead of partisan ones.
We were co-chairmen of a similar bipartisan group on debt reduction last year, and titled our final report “The Moment of Truth.” Of all our prescriptions, the most pertinent today is the one alluded to in the title: we must act now. If our government cannot address these terribly tough issues at a time when the public’s attention is fully on them, when will we ever be able to?
The committee must begin its work immediately. We can reform our budget gradually without disrupting a very fragile economic recovery, but reform it we must.
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"My Views" are works published by members of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, but they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the committee.