On the latest Facing the Future, I was joined by Will Marshall, president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute, Concord Coalition Policy Director, Tori Gorman, and Concord’s Executive Director, Bob Bixby. We discussed PPI's proposal, “Building American Resilience: A Roadmap for Recovery After COVID-19,” and the Congressional Budget Office's latest long-term budget outlook.
[Note: Portions of this week's Facing the Future can be seen in the video clip posted below.]
Marshall joined the program to discuss PPI’s vision for recovery from the pandemic and building a more resilient economy. What motivated this proposal was the sense that everything had changed this year, with the onset of an unprecedented health emergency that has been compounded by a political crisis.
“We began to reorient our policymaking and policy analysis around these crises,” Marshall said. “The thing that leapt out at us is that after all the sacrifice, after all the pain and suffering, we couldn’t just go back to the status quo ante.”
He added that PPI wanted to make the case that real recovery did not just mean going back to where we were, it meant building in new shock absorbers in our public-sector systems and in our private economy against the kind of shocks we have seen this year.
“This is a fairly visionary document,” Marshall said. “These are shorter pieces; we don’t drill down into great detail in all of them … and we don’t elaborate on all of them, as we normally do, on how we’ll pay for them.”
“We wanted to get a lot of big ideas into the debate, and then we’re happy to drill down and talk about the details, including how we reconcile them with our fiscal realities, which are also pretty grim at this point,” he added.
There are 14 topics of focus within the more than 50-page plan, some of which include health care, immigration, social safety nets, workforce investment, education and fiscal policy.
Regarding the workforce, part of the proposal pitches reforms to get people back to work and in higher paying jobs.
“It’s going to be tough, and it's going to take a real strong push from the federal government, working with state and local governments and education and training institutions to have, what we call, a national reemployment push,” Marshall said. “And it ought to have a couple really big parts; one is an emphasis on apprenticeship … and the other part is really robust investment in workforce prep and training programs, many of which are in the private sector.”
Read more of PPI’s proposal by clicking here.
Bixby and Gorman joined the program to break down CBO’s latest long-term budget outlook.
Gorman said CBO issues this report every year, using what we know about demographic trends, forecasts of key economic variables and current spending and revenue laws, to project budget trends for the next 30 years.
“It’s important to point out this is not a forecast of specific budgetary outcomes, but it is a tool for lawmakers in Washington to examine budgetary trends for the future, and if necessary, enact legislation in advance to correct foreseeable problems,” Gorman added.
Bixby said we are all familiar with the ballooning of the debt and deficit because of the pandemic response, which he viewed as necessary, but the key takeaway from the long-term report is that even when the nation moves beyond the pandemic, the debt is still on a very unsustainable path that will not be easy to correct.
“To give you a number, our debt-to-GDP ratio is already knocking on the door of 100 percent” Bixby said. “That is very high by historical standards -- the only other time we’ve done that is at the end of WWII. It’s averaged about 43 percent of GDP since the end of WWII, and over the next 30 years, CBO says the trend, if we do nothing, the debt-to-GDP ratio would get up to 195 percent.”
Speaking from experience, Bixby said 30 years can go by pretty quickly, and if you are 30 now, you are going to have to worry about what the world will look like when you are 60.
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 and elected officials. Past broadcasts are available here. You can subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, Google Play Music or with an RSS feed. Follow Facing the Future on Facebook and watch videos from past episodes on The Concord Coalition YouTube channel.