August 20, 2014

House Majority Leader Issues Emphatic Warning on Debt at Fiscal Solutions Forum

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

College Park, Md. -- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer last week urged Republicans and his fellow Democrats to work together to put the government’s fiscal house in order before growing debt brings “an end to American leadership in the world.”

Hoyer emphasized his deep concerns about the nation’s challenges at the “Fiscal Solutions Forum” co-sponsored by The Concord Coalition and the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. The program, held Thursday on the university’s College Park campus, was one of three programs that Concord and co-sponsors presented last week that focused on the need for fiscal responsibility and reform. (See below for more about the other two programs.)

David M. Walker, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson and former U.S. comptroller general, joined Hoyer and other members of an expert panel in warning students at the University of Maryland that they had ample reason to become advocates for a change in the nation’s course. “Your futures are being mortgaged, at record rates,” Walker said. He outlined possible solutions such as repairs to Social Security, elimination of waste in the Defense budget and elsewhere, and comprehensive tax reform.

Concord Executive Director Robert L. Bixby outlined the fiscal challenges facing the country, summarizing material from Concord’s “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour,” which has visited 30 states in recent years. “The course we are on is, by any definition, unsustainable,” Bixby said.

Hoyer agreed, and he sounded many of the themes that Concord emphasizes. While new health care legislation promises to cut federal deficits, for example, he said this would depend on whether members of Congress have the political courage to stick with tough cost-control measures.

The majority leader worked for the establishment of a bipartisan commission on fiscal responsibility to make recommendations to Congress. He applauded the President’s new commission but cautioned that the requirement that 14 of its 18 members agree on any recommendations was “an extraordinarily high bar.” To find solutions, Hoyer said, both Republicans and Democrats would “have to come to the table without preconditions.”

Also on the panel were William D. Novelli, a business professor at Georgetown University, and Andrew G. Biggs, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Novelli, former CEO of the AARP, said it was possible to stabilize the federal debt while still ensuring retirement security for older Americans. Biggs warned that people who say that we need only attack waste, fraud and abuse were not serious about dealing with the country’s fiscal problems. For more on this event, including video, click here.