Speakers at a forum last week in Nashville explained why the rising federal debt jeopardizes the country’s future and urged Tennesseans to support bipartisan efforts to deal with the problem.
“In the past we ran big deficits in response to specific situations,” said former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a member of the National Steering Committee for the Campaign to Fix the Debt. “These events came to an end and deficits went down, such as (after) World War II.” What’s different now, he said, is that “there is no end” to large projected deficits.
The forum, co-sponsored by Fix the Debt and The Concord Coalition, was the first in a series of public programs that will be presented in six states in the coming weeks.
Last week’s program, held at Lipscomb University’s Ezell Center, also featured Tim Pagliara, chairman of CapWealth Advisors and a Tennessee co-chair for Fix the Debt, and Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition. Turney Stevens, dean of Lipscomb’s College of Business, served as moderator.
They made clear the importance of political cooperation and compromise in considering the many possible solutions that bipartisan groups have suggested.
“The debt is on an unsustainable track,” Bixby said. “That’s not a Democratic or Republican statement. It’s a fact.” He said a large and growing debt is not a legacy that Americans want to leave to future generations.
Bixby pointed out that the main cost-drivers in the budget are popular programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. He urged that reforms concentrate on these programs as well as various tax breaks that function as government subsidies.
Pagliara expressed concern about the uncertainties facing American businesses as the result of inaction on the nation’s fiscal and economic challenges, including rising health care costs.
But Pagliara also sounded an optimistic note: “When you see the problems we have, and the solutions we have, I think we will get around to doing the right thing.”
The next program in the series will be presented at 11 a.m. Monday at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Speakers will include David M. Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell; Donnalee Lozeau, mayor of Nashua; State Senator Lou D’Allesandro, and Bixby.