Our New Year's Wish: Political Will

Congress will leave town for the holidays without completing some serious fiscal business, but with a full agenda for next year. The House and Senate will have to raise the debt limit again early next year. Many members are clamoring for the establishment of a fiscal commission. And Democratic leaders from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to President Obama have promised a new focus on deficit reduction. Republicans have promised to force the Democrats’ hands on the issue or make it a major issue in the fall election. 

The question remains whether policymakers will have the political will to tackle these and even more serious long-term fiscal issues in an election year. For the past year, along with our colleagues on the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform, we have wrestled with a critical issue — a federal debt that is out of control. The Commission members share a common concern: the fiscal future we leave to succeeding generations will lower their standards of living. It is our strong belief that we must take action now to prevent that from happening. 
On December 14, the bipartisan Commission presented a report containing recommendations for how lawmakers and the administration can tackle the debt – “Red Ink Rising: A Call to Action to Stem the Mounting Federal Debt.” Commission members from both sides of the aisle agreed that spending cuts and tax increases will have to be part of the solution. That won’t be easy for anyone to swallow. But it’s essential to avoid saddling future generations with a crippling debt. We hope that the holiday break will give lawmakers the opportunity to rest and return to the Capitol re-energized to face the nation’s fiscal future.