October 25, 2014

Leaders of Bipartisan Panels Discuss Reform Efforts

  • 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...

Two prominent bipartisan groups produced comprehensive plans in late 2010 to put the federal budget on a sustainable course. On Monday the group’s four co-chairs explained how they did it – and hoped that elected officials would eventually follow their example.

Most members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform reached agreement on a bipartisan plan that Co-Chair Erskine Bowles described as balanced and reasonable. “They did it,” he said, “because they thought it was the responsible thing to do, because they thought it was the right thing to do.”

Bowles, a former White House chief of staff, spoke at the second Strengthening of America — Our Children’s Future forum. Others who spoke in the same section of the program were the other co-chair of his commission, former Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), and the two co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force:  Alice Rivlin, a former White House budget director, and former Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

Simpson emphasized that even though there was “a remarkable range” of opinion on his panel, its members were able to develop recommendations for responsible changes in areas such as Social Security and the defense budget.

Domenici said his task force concluded that a broad array of policy changes were necessary because “none of them would do it alone.”

Rivlin said the country faces two big challenges that must be met simultaneously: achieving more rapid economic growth, and putting the federal debt on a sustainable path.