November 23, 2014

Why We Need Public Engagement on Fiscal Reform

  • The national debt has grown significantly in recent years due to rising annual deficits. A deficit occurs in any year the government spends more...

The latest budget struggles in Washington are a reminder of the need for public engagement in the nation’s fiscal challenges.

“For 21 years, staff members of the nonpartisan Concord Coalition have crisscrossed the nation discussing the causes and consequences of federal deficits, the challenges facing America’s entitlement programs, and ways to build a solid foundation for economic growth,” writes Paul Hansen in a guest column in the Missoulian (Montana). “We find that most Americans get it; they realize we cannot continue to pile up huge amounts of debt.”

While recent cuts have put annual domestic spending on a path to historically low levels, some lawmakers are overly focused on still more cuts in the same part of the budget. Often those reductions are in programs that are already relatively small.

“Real deficit reduction requires doing things with big-ticket items, such as reforming the tax code and social benefit programs: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,” says Hansen, Western regional director for The Concord Coalition.

He warns that “no enterprise as great as the United States should operate without a budget” and says politicians threatening to hold the country hostage over the debt limit until their demands are met “is risky for our economy and costly for taxpayers.”