Six diverse organizations offered proposals for broad fiscal reform last week at the second annual “Fiscal Summit” in Washington hosted by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
Although the plans differed in a variety of ways, all called for substantial changes in current federal policies in an effort to reign in projected federal deficits over the next decade and beyond. Significantly, the plans demonstrated that fiscal responsibility can have a conservative or liberal policy perspective. What's important is that spending and tax policies be consistent -- something notably absent from current policy.
Peter G. Peterson, who is chairman of his organization as well as president of The Concord Coalition, said the six plans – developed with grants from his foundation -- come at a “pivotal and hopeful moment” when more and more Americans are focusing on the nation’s fiscal challenges.
Former President Bill Clinton, the summit’s keynote speaker, said bipartisan cooperation was possible but that Democrats would have to accept changes in entitlement programs and Republicans would have to accept higher tax revenues. Clinton also said more should be done to educate the public about the fiscal problems and potential solutions.
Other speakers included Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, who said his experience with that state’s budget demonstrated that although citizens may not like individual pieces of fiscal reform, they will appreciate the overall results. “I think it is very important not to sell the American people short,” he said.
The groups that presented plans at the summit were the American Enterprise Institute, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Center for American Progress, the Economic Policy Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network.