Washington, DC – Robert L. Bixby, Executive Director of The Concord Coalition, testified before the Senate Budget Committee this morning regarding S. 2063, The Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action Act of 2007. Bixby emphasized the need for prompt, bipartisan action to address the nation's unsustainable long-term fiscal outlook.
The hearing, entitled "S. 2063, The Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action Act of 2007," was held by Senators Kent Conrad and Judd Gregg, chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Budget Committee.
Bixby's testimony discussed the importance of cutting through partisan rhetoric, engaging the public, and fostering a legislative atmosphere where realistic solutions can be enacted.
While highlighting the failure of traditional methods to deal with daunting fiscal challenges, Bixby stressed that the task force would need five elements to succeed
First, it must be truly bipartisan. Any perception that the purpose is to facilitate swift enactment of a partisan agenda would doom it to failure. It should have bipartisan co-chairs and equal representation. Doing otherwise in the current partisan environment would be a waste of time and money.
Second, it must have a broad mandate. While it is critical to control the growth of entitlements, particularly Medicare and Social Security, the task force or commission should examine all aspects of fiscal policy.
Third, there must be no preconditions. If either side sets preconditions, the other side will not participate.
Fourth, it must engage the public. In Concord's experience, when people are armed with the facts and given the opportunity for honest dialogue, they are willing to set priorities and make hard choices. Moreover, it seems highly unlikely that the public would react well to a reform package for which it was unprepared.
Fifth, its recommendations should be voted in Congress. Absent this element, the report would likely join many others on a shelf.
To view Robert Bixby's entire testimony, please click here.
The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to balanced federal budgets and generationally responsible fiscal policy. Former U.S. Senators Warren Rudman (R-NH) and Bob Kerrey (D-NE) serve as Concord's co-chairs and former Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson serves as president.