In addition to making short-term budget decisions, elected officials must do a better job than they have this year in confronting the nation’s larger, long-term fiscal challenges.
Budget experts, lawmakers and former members of Congress expressed that theme as they discussed how to avoid future fiscal crises at a conference last week on Capitol Hill. The event was organized by the University of New Hampshire’s Warren B. Rudman Center and The Concord Coalition in cooperation with several other organizations.
Although the federal deficit has dropped sharply in the past year, the keynote speaker at the conference – former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad – warned that much remains to be done: “The dirty little secret is that our long-term situation has not improved dramatically.”
Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf said higher spending in just a few key programs, including Social Security and Medicare, is expected to outweigh additional expected revenue and projected cuts in other spending.
In videotaped remarks, New Hampshire’s U.S. senators – Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Kelly Ayotte – both stressed the need for bipartisan cooperation.