Prominent experts on the federal budget as well as current and former lawmakers honored the late Warren B. Rudman while echoing his calls for broad fiscal reforms in a national conference Monday in New Hampshire. The event was co-hosted by the University of New Hampshire School of Law, The Concord Coalition and New Hampshire Public Radio.
Rudman, who represented New Hampshire for two distinguished terms in the U.S. Senate, was a founding co-chair of Concord up until his death last year. Monday’s conference marked the formal launch of the law school’s Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy.
“Warren Rudman was a wise and courageous political leader who focused on the broad public interest – a man of strong principles who still understood the importance of thoughtful compromise,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition. He said Concord looked forward to working with the Rudman Center to preserve Rudman’s legacy.
Former U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker and former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe were the featured speakers at the conference, entitled “The Federal Budget and the Law: Finding a Way Forward.”
In addition, two panels included Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), former Senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.), former Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), former Congressional Budget Office Director Alice Rivlin, former Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), Concord’s Bixby and Bill Hoagland, senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Peter G. Peterson, a co-founder of The Concord Coalition and chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, also spoke.
Ari Shapiro of National Public Radio moderated both panels and University of New Hampshire School of Law Dean John Broderick appeared as well.
It was repeatedly noted at the conference that Rudman’s warnings about the nation’s irresponsible and unsustainable course had proven to be on target, with the federal debt rising rapidly and the nation facing a variety of fiscal, economic and demographic challenges.
While elected officials have made some progress in curbing projected deficits, much more remains to be done. Several speakers put particular emphasis on the need for changes in the big federal entitlement programs to deal with the budget pressures from an aging population and rising health care costs.
There were also calls for fundamental reform of the nation’s tax code to simplify its provisions, improve its efficiency, encourage greater economic growth and reduce federal borrowing.