May 24, 2017

Former Lawmakers Bemoan Political Divisions

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

A Concord Coalition panel discussion recently highlighted the continuing need for fiscal reform, with former lawmakers lamenting the sharp divisions within and between the two political parties.

“We have a fiscal challenge which is really a political challenge which really is a societal challenge. . . the two parties are more polarized than ever before,” said Evan Bayh, a former senator (D-Ind.).

Mike Castle, a former House member (R-Del.), put it bluntly: “The Congress of the United States today is a difficult place.”

Also participating in the program last week in Washington were former senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), former congressman John Tanner (D-Tenn.) and Concord Executive Director Robert L. Bixby. Castle and Tanner are Concord’s co-chairs; Bayh and Gregg serve on its Board of Directors.

“What I am more concerned about than anything is the lack of urgency by not only the public but by the politicians and the office-holders on these issues,” Tanner said.

Gregg said that if the president shows he is willing to “step on the toes” of some of his constituencies, the other party is more likely to do so with some of its constituencies.

Bixby suggested this perspective for candidates in the next presidential election: “In effect, the debt is your running mate. It’s going to be with you when you are elected, and you are going to have to do something with it.”