MY VIEW: Erskine Bowles & Alan Simpson

Jun 27, 2011

In a recently published op-ed in The Hill, CRFB board members Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson write that a serious fiscal reform plan must be agreed to and enacted in order to get our exploding debt under control.

The op-ed, which was also the topic of a post on The Hill's On the Money blog today, states that Washington must agree to and enact "a $4 trillion-plus, gimmick-free fiscal consolidation package that stabilizes and then reduces our debt as a share of the economy."

As the authors explain:

"Such a plan need not look exactly like the Fiscal Commission plan we produced, but it must cut wasteful or low-priority spending everywhere — in both the domestic and defense budgets, as well as the tax code where actual spending is dressed up as deductions, credits and other preferences. More importantly, this package must tackle the biggest source of our burgeoning debt — growing entitlement spending. That means it must slow the growth of healthcare and make Social Security sustainably solvent."

Bowles and Simpson write that the difficultly of enacting such a plan--not to mention writing it into legislation--makes the case for a two-part approach: a significant down payment now followed by larger structural and structural reforms in the near future. The authors stress the importance of taking action soon, saying:

"And policy makers must agree--including with an honest process and strict enforcement mechanisms--to address the remainder of the problem before the next election. Elections take all options off the table, instead of setting the table for reform. There can be no more kicking the can down the road or handing the baton to the next guy--the markets won’t allow it and the American people should not tolerate it.

…Recent turmoil in the so-called Biden discussions and Gang of Six seem to call into question whether our politicians can agree to any such a package. The truth is, we have no choice but to do it."

Click here to read the full op-ed.

"My Views" are works published by members of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, but they do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the Committee.