WASHINGTON -- In the wake of today's defeat of the balanced budget amendment, the Concord Coalition Citizens Council is challenging the president and Congress to enact legislation that would balance the budget by 2002, even with out being forced to by a constitutional mandate.
"The last thing we need is another year of partisan demagoguery," said Concord Co-Chair Warren Rudman. "That's no substitute for action. Opponents of the amendment said they don't need a Constitutional mandate to achieve a balanced budget, and now they have a chance to prove it."
"With or without a Constitutional amendment, tough choices must be made on the budget," said Concord Executive Director Martha Phillips. "Unfortunately neither the president nor the Congressional leadership have proposed a plan that convinces us it would achieve balance by 2002, much less solve the far more severe long term problems looming ahead in coming decades when the baby boom generation retires."
While President Clinton sent a budget to Congress, it would fall significantly short of reaching balance by 2002, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The CBO reported yesterday that under the President's basic policy proposals, the deficit would climb from $107 billion last year to $145 billion in 1998 and would show a $69 billion deficit in 2002.
For their part, Congressional Republicans have introduced tax cut legislation but have yet to announce even a schedule for developing a balanced budget plan. Instead they are concen- trating on exposing flaws in the president's budget.
"Partisan attacks and deceptive packaging won't help solve the problem," said Timothy Penny (D-MN), Policy Chairman of Concord's Board of Directors. "The time has come for the hard political work of developing a substantive plan on which both sides can agree. Otherwise the current window of opportunity afforded us by low deficit projections and a healthy economy will slam shut with people still talking about the shape of the bargaining table."
If Congress and the president fail to reach a balanced budget agreement this year, Concord plans to challenge members who opposed the balanced budget amendment to reconsider their position and take another vote on the constitutional amendment next year.