Over the past 20 years The Concord Coalition has worked to build an impressive grassroots network. Given our nation’s poor financial condition and fiscal outlook, it is more important than ever to inspire action within that grassroots network. The next three months are critical in regards to addressing our nation’s huge and mounting fiscal challenge.
The Concord Coalition, which has long viewed public engagement as essential to U.S. fiscal reform, is partnering with the Campaign to Fix the Debt to present a series of public forums around the country in the coming weeks.
This joint project will focus its efforts on ten programs in six states: Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida and Tennessee. These events, open to the public, will take a variety of forms.
In his press conference this week, President Obama suggested that policymakers only need to pass another $1.5 trillion worth of deficit reduction, on top of the $2.5 trillion already enacted, to stabilize the growth of the nation’s debt and, in his words, “finish the job.”
On his way out the door, retiring Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) had a lot to say. It was a final reminder -- he called it a challenge -- from one of the Senate’s foremost deficit hawks of why deficits matter and why much more must be done to do bring them under control.
With no time left on the clock, Senate Democrats and Republicans have approved a deal to avoid the most immediate consequences of the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The defining feature of the deal, however, is that it leaves much more to be done.
The deal -- which the House must still vote on -- requires no hard choices and solves no difficult problems.
With the latest exchange of offers, President Obama and House Speaker Boehner have moved closer to a deal that would reduce the deficit by about $2 trillion over the next decade. On the surface, the split between spending cuts and tax increases seems relatively even and this is likely to be a point of resistance for those who argue for greater spending cuts. Lost in the rhetoric, however, is that some policies traditionally defined as “tax increases” are really “spending cuts.”
The long-standing impasse on tax policy has basically boiled down to this: Democrats want more revenue, raised entirely from households with incomes over $250,000. Republicans don’t want any new revenue, and especially not from higher tax rates on the rich. It seems like an irreconcilable difference.
But if you get beyond the predicable partisan rhetoric there is room for optimism that a deal can be reached.
At last week’s 105th annual conference of the National Tax Association in Providence, R.I., former Clinton Treasury secretary and Obama economic advisor Lawrence Summers explained that the tax reform needed today is very different from the Tax Reform Act of 1986.