This week's guest on Facing the Future was Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-7th). In addition to serving on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, she Chairs the Blue Dog Coalition's Task Force on Fiscal Responsibility and Government Reform.
We discussed her ideas for needed investments, how they might be responsibly financed and her support for the Trust Act, which aims to prevent several key federal trust funds from reaching insolvency within the next 15 years.
Later in the show, Concord Coalition National Field Director Phil Smith and I discussed the importance of engaging the public on fiscal responsibility.
Bourdeaux said that both parties have lost sight of the fact that budgeting involves trade-offs. “You have to prioritize. You have to think about one thing versus another. You can’t do everything. So finding a way to establish that budget constraint again, I think, is something that is going to be very important at the federal level,” she explained.
“Looking at the lay of the land, it does seem like we have space to do a physical infrastructure bill as well as to invest in ourselves; child care, education, family medical leave, health care reform. There are a lot of things like that we can do.”
She added that climate change must be addressed and that “we also need to address infrastructure to unlock economic opportunity.”
Bourdeaux said, however, that “we really should put everything on the table when we’re thinking about making these investments. Typically, we have financed infrastructure through user fees and we need to think about that as an alternative to some of the president’s proposals, or as a supplement to them, to make sure that we can really pay for these very ambitious ideas that we have.”
She decided to co-sponsor the Trust Act because a number of important federal trust funds, such as Social Security, Medicare and Highways, are projected to reach insolvency in the near future.
“The sooner you address those gaps,” she said, “the cheaper it becomes because you’re not waiting until the last minute; waiting until it’s a crisis.”