With public attention shifting from the party conventions to the fall campaign and the presidential debates that start in early October, advocates of federal budget reform are renewing their calls for more substantial political discussion of the country’s fiscal and economic challenges.
Former U. S. Senators Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) have convened a bipartisan group of former members of Congress for four public forums on the federal debt and related issues in the weeks leading up to the presidential debates.
The first program is scheduled for tomorrow, Sept. 12, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 1800 K Street, N.W., Washington. The program, which will run from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., will provide an overview of the nation’s fiscal challenges and will feature two former U.S. Treasury secretaries: Robert Rubin and James A. Baker III.
This new initiative, “Strengthening of America – Our Children’s Future,” also involves several organizations, including The Concord Coalition. Nunn and Rudman serve as Concord’s co-chairmen.
Future sessions will focus on the national security implications of the debt, bipartisan deficit-reduction proposals, pro-growth tax reform, and the critical need to curb rising entitlement costs and health care spending.
“Neither party seems willing to address this issue with either common sense or simple arithmetic,” the four former senators said in a joint statement. “There are current members of both parties, however, who understand the stakes and who are willing to work together by putting the country first. We hope to support, strengthen, and help add to that group.”
In another development, Concord and two other organizations – the Bipartisan Policy Center and The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget – ran an ad yesterday in Politico urging the nation’s leaders to take “concrete steps toward a long-term debt reduction plan” while dealing with the year-end “fiscal cliff.”
The fiscal cliff involves sharp “automatic” spending cuts and the scheduled expiration of large tax cuts, a combination that economists say could trigger a recession if everything takes effect at once. Officials in both parties have expressed a strong interest in passing legislation to modify at least some parts of the fiscal cliff.
“The President and Congress have received several comprehensive bipartisan plans from elected officials and other budget experts,” the organizations say in the ad. “Use this opportunity to forge agreement.”
Concord also has a new feature on concordcoalition.org to help voters find “key questions” to ask candidates for federal office, along with background information to help evaluate their responses.