July 23, 2014

Critical Ingredients: Public Engagement and Bipartisanship

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

Six senators and the co-chairs of President Obama’s fiscal commission have put a spotlight on the country's big fiscal challenges – a welcome contrast to the tussles in Congress over domestic spending programs that make up only a slice of the budget.

Erskine Bowles, White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration, and Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, headed the commission. A bipartisan majority of the panel issued sweeping recommendations late last year.

Bowles and Simpson have announced the “Moment of Truth Project” to promote public awareness of the country’s fiscal problems and, as Bowles put it, “continue to bang away at all our elected leaders to produce a solution.”

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators have become more vocal about their efforts to put together legislation to follow up on the commission’s work. They are Democrats Mark Warner (VA), Richard Durbin (IL) and Kent Conrad (ND), and Republicans Saxby Chambliss (GA), Tom Coburn (OK) and Mike Crapo (ID).

Members of this group spoke at the unveiling of the Bowles/Simpson project last week. Chambliss and Warner also spoke to 200 business leaders in Richmond, Va.

Such bipartisanship, public engagement and education are critical to dealing with the nation's fiscal challenges.