To remain competitive and successful in the global economy, the country needs smart workforce investment and immigration reform, said former U.S. Senator Judd Gregg during the ninth episode of “Facing the Future.”
“A lot of very bright, capable people around this world want to come to the United States, and we should be encouraging them to come if they bring skills and abilities that add to our culture and our ability to be competitive,” Gregg said.
“Immigration has always been an energizer to our economy,” he said.
Gregg, a member of The Concord Coalition’s Board of Directors, also emphasized the generational ramifications of failing to act on the nation’s fiscal challenges. He sees a need for stronger leadership.
“There are no deficit hawks; there aren’t even any deficit pigeons,” Gregg said.
“We’re going to have a fiscal problem, which our kids are going to have to pay for with a significant reduction in their standard of living unless we get something done about controlling the debt and the deficit,” he said.
When asked what kind of messaging on these issues he hopes to see from candidates during the next presidential cycle, Gregg replied: “I don’t think we can wait until 2020, to be very honest with you. We’re going to be locked into deficits of $1 trillion-plus and interest of $1 trillion-plus by then; we won’t be able to get out from underneath it.”
Gregg also sees interest payments on the debt as a waste. “You’re taking taxpayer dollars and sending them to places like China to pay off the interest on the debt, and we don’t get anything for it,” he said.
This “Facing the Future” program also featured Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby. He focused on several key issues that have changed over the past 25 years -- like health care social security and domestic investment -- which impact federal budget policy.
Bixby emphasized that the nation’s economy has changed significantly since the 1990s. “There are two fundamental parts of the economy that go into economic growth; growth of the workforce and productivity of that workforce,” Bixby said. “Workforce growth has slowed dramatically, by about two-thirds, and productivity has also slowed.”
“Projections going forward are that we are going to have economic growth that is very slow, below 2 percent,” he said. “That’s a major drop-off, but a lot of the reason has to do with simple demographics.”
Bixby shares Gregg’s concern over the cost of servicing the nation’s debt and how that will squeeze the federal budget in coming years.
“As we borrow more . . . interest costs are going to spike,” he said. “Within 10 years, we are probably going to be spending more on interest than we do on national defense.”
“That is a real ticking time-bomb in the budget,” Bixby said. “It makes it more difficult to get back to a balanced budget.”
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. You can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or through RSS.