In September 1992, three concerned public figures launched The Concord Coalition in front of a national debt clock in New York City. Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., former Sen. Paul Tsongas, D-Mass., and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Peter G. Peterson were all deeply worried about the size and trajectory of the federal debt.
In an op-ed Saturday in the Des Moines Register, Sara Imhof, Concord’s Midwest field director, writes: “We can see now how justified the concerns expressed in that 1992 press conference were: The $4 trillion debt has become a $16 trillion debt. It is rising rapidly and is expected to continue doing so, with a tax system riddled with costly subsidies and the big federal entitlement programs straining to meet the demands of an aging population.”
She recalls that Rudman, who died last month at age 82, spoke eloquently at the 1992 press conference about the need to move beyond special-interest agendas and to focus on “economic growth and a future for the kids of this country.”
Looking back on his two terms in the Senate, Rudman said that in Washington “there is a great fear of doing what has to be done,” and he called for greater public engagement to support elected officials who wanted to do the right thing.
The country faces even greater fiscal danger now. “That’s why public pressure on Washington to change course is even more important than ever,” Imhof says.