WASHINGTON -- In a full-page statement in this Sunday's New York Times (January 7, 2007), bipartisan leaders of The Concord Coalition urge the President and Congress to negotiate a bipartisan balanced budget plan using realistic cost estimates and to begin a process for addressing long-term fiscal challenges. They also urge budget process reforms to improve fiscal discipline and focus more attention on the impact that current budgetary decisions will have on the future.
The statement is signed by Concord Coalition Co-Chairs, Warren B. Rudman and Bob Kerrey; Concord President, Peter G. Peterson; and Members of The Concord Coalition Board of Directors, Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin, Sam Nunn and Charles A. Bowsher.
Excerpts from the statement follow:
"The most important message the American people sent to their elected leaders last November was the desire for change. Americans want a new direction and bipartisan cooperation on a number of fronts, including fiscal policy. The Concord Coalition strongly urges you to heed this call -- not for political advantage, but as your stewardship responsibility to future generations.
"We believe the direction of current fiscal policy is dangerous. Chronic heavy borrowing is gradually weakening our long-term economic strength. Moreover, failure to address the vast unfunded obligations of Social Security and Medicare -- $39 trillion at last count -- risks a generational conflict in which the children of today's baby boomers will face the terrible choices of much higher taxes, dramatic cuts in their parents entitlement programs, greatly diminished ability to set their own spending priorities, or unsustainable debt.
"Generational fairness requires a major course correction. We recommend that the following four steps be taken immediately:
- Restore budget caps and pay-as-you-go rules for new spending and tax cuts. These simple rules played a crucial role in bringing the deficit under control in the 1990’s. Renewing them is the most important thing you can do in the short-term to prevent the long-term outlook from getting worse.
- Negotiate a bipartisan plan to balance the budget. We are encouraged that the President and the Democratic chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees have indicated their support for a balanced budget by 2012. To be meaningful, however, the plan must use realistic cost estimates for military operations, reform of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), non-defense discretionary spending and all other matters.
- Include long-term projections in the budget resolution. The impact that your decisions have on our children and grandchildren must be better understood. Yet, the current budget process encourages short-term thinking by focusing on a five or 10-year window. Spending and tax policies that may seem "affordable" over 10 years will seem far less so if viewed in the long-term context.
- Begin a bipartisan process to address long-term fiscal challenges. The structural imbalance between future benefit promises and the revenues projected to pay for them must be addressed head-on. A realistic strategy will require reductions in promised benefits, higher revenues, or a combination of both. Everything must be on the table.
The full text of the statement is available in PDF format on The Concord Coalition's website, http://www.concordcoalition.org/doc/nytimesad/2007-ad.pdf (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)