Alice Rivlin: Remembering an Economic Patriot

Blog Post
Tuesday, May 28, 2019

On the latest Facing the Future, Alice Rivlin is remembered as a valued colleague, a trailblazer and a policy expert focused on bringing people together and making progress on important issues.

Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby hosted a discussion with others who had opportunities to work with Rivlin. Concord’s National Field Director Phil Smith, “Economist Mom” Diane Lim and Americans for Prosperity Senior Policy Fellow Alison Acosta Winters reflected upon Rivlin and her work.

She was the first director of the Congressional Budget Office, served as director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration, was co-chair of the Domenici-Rivlin Debt Reduction Task Force and held a variety of other positions.  

Rivlin was “the standard” of fiscal responsibility, budget policy and public service in Washington, said Bixby. “We worked with her … and cherished her as a colleague.”

He said Rivlin was always trying to get things done and was an expert on many topics: health care, tax policy, infrastructure and more.

Lim said Rivlin was extremely supportive, down to earth, and modest about her contributions -- particularly for someone who had accomplished so much.

Winters said, “One important thing to point out, in addition to her extraordinary ability and accomplishments, is the fact that she did a lot of firsts as a woman.” Winters said she appreciated that Rivlin took time to mentor many women throughout her career.

Rivlin was unfailingly positive, she said. “She was respectful and open … she really cared and was interested in your point of view.”

Along with other policy experts, Winters participated in the “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour,” a bipartisan grassroots effort organized by The Concord Coalition. During the tour, she had the opportunity to interact with Rivlin, and her admiration for Rivlin grew.  

Smith, who also worked with Rivlin on the “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour,” was impressed by her sincerity and interest in other people. He recalled Rivlin taking the time to connect with him even as a junior staff member. She could be your biggest champion and supporter, he added. “We need more Alice Rivlins.”

Smith said he hopes that her life will inspire others and that her legacy will live on.

Bixby said he looked through videos online of Rivlin’s remarks from years ago, and he said it was as if she were giving a contemporary speech.

“She would lay things out in such a logical way, in a non-ideological way, with a sense of urgency but not panic, not bombast,” he said. She called upon people to challenge their policy assumptions, to compromise and come to bipartisan agreements.

In an environment that is increasingly partisan, Bixby said, everyone on both sides of the aisle  respected Alice Rivlin.

Hear more on “Facing the Future.” I host the program each week on WKXL, NHTalkRadio.com (N.H.), and it is also available via podcast. Join me and my guests as we discuss issues relating to national fiscal policy with budget experts, industry leaders, elected officials and candidates for public office. Past broadcasts are available here. You can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or through RSS.