April 18, 2014

CONCORD COALITION: 10 CRITERIA FOR GRADING BALANCED BUDGET PLANS

WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition today released a list of 10 criteria by which to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of budget plans that will be proposed in coming weeks by President Clinton, Members of Congress and assorted public policy groups, including the Concord Coalition. A "Yes" answer to every question would be a perfect score.

 

1. Does the deficit path trend steadily and smoothly downward so that each year's planned deficit is smaller than in the preceding year and a zero deficit is reached no later than 2002?

2. Are the estimates of future deficits and proposed policy changes realistic?

3. Do the numbers add up without resorting to "triggers," score-keeping gimmicks, implausible assumptions, or "time bombs?"

4. Are proposals to cut discretionary spending explicit and plausible?

5. Are major tax cuts and spending increases postponed until a balanced budget has been achieved?

6. Are new or expanded entitlements avoided, or if included, are they held to a minimum and is their long-term cost fully offset?

7. Does the budget plan propose policies that help the nation begin preparing for the retirement of the baby boom generation and subsequent generations?

8. Does the plan distribute short term sacrifice fairly and equitably among Americans of all ages and income groups, expecting the wealthy to do their fair share, and exempting only the very poor?

9. Can the plan attract substantial bipartisan support?

10. Does the budget plan recognize the principle of generational responsibility?

"The time has come to put partisan rhetoric aside and work together to adopt a budget that reaches balance no later than 2002, in reality as well as on paper," said Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), co-chair of the Concord Coalition. "A balanced budget is clearly within reach by 2002, and we have run out of credible excuses for failure to act," Rudman added.

"What we need is a budget plan that goes beyond achieving balance in five years," said former Representative and Concord Board Member Tim Penny (D-Minn.). "It is essential that the budget lay the foundation for putting programs for the elderly on a coherent, affordable basis that the nation can sustain in coming decades as our population ages."

"As daunting as it sometimes seems, today's budget balancing exercise is just a gentle warm up for the grueling age-wave challenge ahead," said Pete Peterson, president of the Concord Coalition. "If we leave senior entitlements on autopilot, the CBO projects economy-shattering deficits of 20 percent of GDP by the mid-2020s. We must therefore ask what a plan does to ensure budget balance in 2022, not just in 2002."