September 16, 2014

About the Tour

The Fiscal Wake-Up Tour is a joint public engagement initiative by The Concord Coalition, the Budgeting for National Priorities Project at the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation, and the Honorable David M. Walker, President and CEO of The Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

Beginning in September of 2005, the Tour has visited more than 40 cities in all regions of the country explaining in plain terms why budget analysts of diverse perspectives are increasingly alarmed by the nation's daunting long-term fiscal outlook.

Our emphasis is on the key areas in which we have found consensus, such as:

  • The overall dimensions of the problem

  • The nature of the realistic trade-offs that must be confronted in finding solutions

  • The adverse and inequitable consequences for future generations if we fail to make serious changes, sooner rather than later.

Our mission is to cut through the usual partisan rhetoric and stimulate a more realistic public dialogue on what we want our nation's future to look like, along with the required trade-offs. We believe that elected leaders in Washington know there is a problem, but they are unlikely to act unless their constituents better understand the need for action, and indeed, demand it. Members of the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour do not necessarily agree on the ideal levels of spending, taxes and debt, but we do agree on the following key points:

  • Current fiscal policy is unsustainable

  • There are no easy solutions, such as cutting waste fraud and abuse or growing our way out of the problem.

  • Finding solutions will require bipartisan cooperation and a willingness to discuss all options.

  • Public engagement and understanding is vital in finding solutions.

  • This is not about numbers. It is a moral issue.

We remind audiences that each of the realistic options comes with economic and political consequences that must be carefully weighed, and that there must be tradeoffs. Those who want to raise taxes are asked to explain what level of taxation they are willing to support and the manner in which the new revenue should be raised. Those who argue that spending must come down from projected levels are asked which programs they would target and how the savings would be achieved. Those who are unwilling to do either are asked how much debt they are willing to impose on future generations.

Our experience is that when audiences are told the facts, and shown that if they demand their "rights" to programs or policies it will have damaging economic effects to other groups or generations represented in the audience, they begin to accept the need for tradeoffs. The Fiscal Wake-Up Tour does not presume to know the "correct" answers, but we are trying to make sure that the American people and their elected leaders are asking the correct questions.

Before each event we send out an alert to the local media, and an email to our list subscribers. If you are interested in attending, watch this page or subscribe to our email list. If you wish to bring The Fiscal Wake-Up Tour to a venue near you, contact Harry Zeeve at (703) 894-6222.