MY VIEW: Vic Fazio

Today's Roll Call included an op-ed by former Representative and current CRFB board member Vic Fazio. He discusses the need for fiscal reform right now, calling on his own party, Democrats, to address our fiscal challenges. He notes that the Super Committee may introduce recommendations that are painful for Democrats, but staying engaged in the process will lead to a plan that will be more agreeable to them. He also goes over the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson report and Gang of Six recommendations and urges the Super Committee to heed their principles.

He writes:

  • Maintain critical investments for future growth. A long-term plan can ensure that we are reducing the deficit on our own terms and not hindering our long-term growth by underfunding critical investments in education, infrastructure and innovation.
  • Avoid disrupting a fragile economic recovery. The fiscal commission and gang of six provided for phasing in savings gradually, with significant spending cuts not beginning until 2013. At the same time, by putting in place a credible plan to stabilize the debt, the proposals would strengthen long-term economic growth by eliminating the risk of a fiscal crisis.
  • Ensure revenue is part of the solution. Federal revenue is at its lowest percentage of gross domestic product since the Korean War, and going forward, we will need more if we want to reduce the debt as a share of the economy while adequately funding government in an era of increased longevity and rising health care costs. Under the gang of six proposal, revenues would increase from their current level of slightly more than 16 percent of GDP today to 20 percent by the end of the decade.
  • Tax reform that eliminates special-interest tax breaks and preserves progressivity. The best way to grow revenue is an approach similar to the fiscal commission’s in which most tax expenditures are eliminated and the savings are used for deficit reduction and to help increase progressivity.
  • Require defense savings for deficit reduction. A broad agreement must scrutinize every aspect of the federal budget — including defense spending. All discretionary spending should be on the table for consideration.
  • Protect programs that serve low-income families. Any agreement must adhere to the principle that the most vulnerable in society be protected, especially since they have weathered the worst of the economic downturn. The fiscal commission report, as well as the gang of six proposal, upheld this principle, and for that reason, critical safety net programs were preserved and in some ways strengthened as part of the overall fiscal plan....

At the end of World War II, America’s debt exceeded its entire GDP. Yet, rather than throwing up their hands, our parents and grandparents whittled down their deficits. By the Kennedy administration, the ratio of debt to GDP was back down to where it was before the war. What lesson can we learn from the “greatest generation”? Simply this: Opportunity, not debt, is the legacy we owe to future Americans.

Click here  to read the full Roll Call op-ed.

"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.