Worried and frustrated by Washington’s latest fiscal fights, a panel of experts on the federal budget last week faulted elected officials in both parties for irresponsibility, inflexibility and, in some cases, lack of common sense.
The situation led former senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) to quote Will Rogers on congressional philosophy: “If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t stupidity get us out?”
Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby had a suggestion for some lawmakers: “If you are trying the strategy of pandering, pandering, pandering, and you are at 5 percent in the polls, why not try something else – coming together and legislating?”
The panel discussion took place at Concord’s annual Economic Patriots Dinner on Thursday in Washington. Also participating were former Federal Reserve vice chair Dr. Alice Rivlin, former senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), and former senator Bill Brock III (R-Tenn.). Washington Post reporter Lori Montgomery served as moderator.
Domenici spoke of “difficult times for a great nation” and lamented today’s excessive partisanship. Rivlin criticized both Congress and the President for “a failure of leadership” – a view shared by other panel members.
Brock said he was also deeply worried about the low level of respect that Americans now have not only for Congress but for other institutions in our society.
Much of the evening’s discussion, however, focused on possible areas of political agreement.
Panel members emphasized the need to make entitlement programs sustainable, overhaul the inefficient tax code, encourage personal savings and promote economic growth in the years ahead.
The budget experts also advised voters to steer clear of politicians who scorn the idea of compromise. Nunn encouraged the public to support candidates “who say they are going to Washington to work with the other party and to solve problems.”