As demographic challenges and health care costs continue to cloud the federal budget outlook, a panel of experts called for substantive fiscal reform at a forum in West Palm Beach, Fla. last week.
It was the latest in a series of public programs around the country that are co-sponsored by The Concord Coalition and the Campaign to Fix the Debt.
Paul Stebbins, CEO of World Fuel Services; Julio Fuentes, president of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby agreed that national leaders must better inform and engage the public — and that citizens should help build coalitions to support a sound fiscal plan.
Stebbins encouraged citizens to grill their elected officials and candidates for office on fiscal issues. He said that he and other CEOs had previously assumed that Washington leaders would “eventually get into a room and fix these problems, but unfortunately the political process in Washington is broken and we all need to step up in order to fix it.”
Stebbins described how “strong employment and a great economy could be unleashed if we would fix these problems.”
Fuentes said that if “national leaders would actually work together to assemble a plan, then small- and medium-sized businesses around the country would be much better off.” Like Stebbins, he said companies could plan much better if they knew the government had its house in order.
Bixby pointed to projections of rising deficits later in the decade and unsustainable entitlement programs. Within the next decade, the federal government’s interest payments alone could near $800 billion a year. While this year’s projected deficit has come down, Bixby said it was not because of any tough political decisions.
“In fact,” he added, “we still don’t have a plan to deal with these challenges.”
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