WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition today congratulated the Congressional leadership and White House on reaching agreement on a plan to balance the budget by 2002, but cautioned that much more work is left to be done.
"The bipartisan negotiators of this deal deserve praise for reaching acompromise on a very difficult issue that is critical to America's future," said Concord Co-Chair Warren Rudman. "While partisan bomb throwers on both sides will undoubtedly try to undo much of the good work that has been done, we are cautiously optimistic that this plan will receive broad support from both parties."
Rudman, Concord Co-Chair Sam Nunn and Concord President Pete Peterson urged Congress and the president to take advantage of the current strong economy and favorable workforce demographics to address the nation's enormous long-term budget problems.
"This is a beginning, but the more severe problems are in the years following 2002 when the baby boomers begin to retire," said Concord Co-Chair Sam Nunn. "Now is the time to deal with the entitlement time bomb. The longer we wait, the more severe the medicine will be. The question remains -- will our generation be condemned by our children and grandchildren when they recognize that they have inherited a fiscal nightmare?"
"As daunting as it seems, today's budget balancing exercise is just a gentle warm up for the grueling age wave ahead," said Peterson. "As the Congressional Budget Office has stated, leaving senior entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare on autopilot would eventually shatter our economy. We must therefore ask what a plan does to ensure budget balance in 2022, not just in 2002."
The Concord leaders also cautioned President Clinton and Congress to avoid accounting gimmicks, backloaded cuts in discretionary spending, or other budget "timebombs" in their attempts to gain final passage of a balanced budget resolution.
Concord plans to do a thorough analysis of the plan once further details are available.