Calls for Fiscal Policy Leadership in Congress

Blog Post
Monday, February 26, 2018

The third broadcast of “Facing the Future" focused on the need for stronger leadership in Congress on the nation’s fiscal challenges.

New Hampshire Republican politico Brad Cook, former ambassador and former Democratic congressman Dick Swett, and Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby shared their perspectives.

Cook, who worked with the late Warren B. Rudman, a senator and Concord Coalition co-founder, speculated about what Rudman might say to current lawmakers: “He would probably excoriate them all for not trying to find common ground and be responsible.”

“The first thing I think he would do is stand up and tell the truth,” Cook said. “Rudman had a saying: 'Just tell the truth and watch them scatter.’ ”

Swett attested to a deepening divide in Congress that should be addressed.

“I've always believed you can disagree without being disagreeable,” he said.

Swett looks for guidance from advice offered by George Washington during his 1796 Farewell Address. Our first president stressed the need for national unity and fiscal discipline.

Washington said Americans should “cherish” public credit.

“It is a beautiful term,” Swett said. “It suggests something that one looks at, is sensitive to and protective of, as opposed to just blowing through spending limits.”

Bixby agreed with the need for good stewardship of public credit.

“There's a basic structural mismatch between spending and revenues,” he said. Bixby pointed to trillion-dollar deficits arriving as early as next year -- not driven by a bad economy or major war, but by high levels of spending without sufficient revenue.

“I would like to see (Congress) stick to budget caps,” he said. “Let's try to do appropriations right.”

Bixby emphasized that one of the biggest spending drivers in the budget -- health care costs -- must be addressed.

If we can control the underlying costs of providing health care, he said, the cost of  Medicare and Medicaid will go down.

I host “Facing the Future” each week on WKXL Concord News Radio (N.H.), which is also available via podcast. Join us 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.