New Reforms for Economic Growth and Fiscal Responsibility

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In the past week The Concord Coalition joined with a diverse group of policy experts to release and discuss two new papers as part of our new project on fiscally responsible economic growth.

On Thursday, September 19 we released “Promoting Economic Growth Through Social Security Reform” at the Economic Forum of Palm Beach County Florida. The event featured Concord’s policy director Joshua Gordon, Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), one of the paper’s authors, and former Congressman Patrick Murphy.

Speakers from Social Security Event

At the event, Gordon set up the context for the project arguing that our fiscal problem is so large and so ingrained in current policy that it poses an economic threat. Furthermore, we cannot ensure future economic growth without doing more to ensure fiscal sustainability nor can we ensure fiscal sustainability without doing more to enhance economic growth. The Social Security paper represents one prong in our attempt to tackle both.

Goldwein followed by explaining how he, along with co-authors Maya MacGuineas and Chris Towner from CRFB, designed a Social Security reform plan unique in its attempt not just to ensure Social Security solvency, which helps with fiscal sustainability, but to also use Social Security reform as a way to increase economic growth by nudging people to remain in the workforce, reward work at all ages, and to increase savings and investment. They accomplish this while increasing the program’s progressivity.

Finally, former Congressman Patrick Murphy, who represented the Palm Beach area in Congress, discussed some of the political barriers to achieving Social Security reform — in particular the increased partisanship in Congress and some of the causes of that polarization.

On Tuesday, September 24, we released “A New Vision for Health Reform,” co-authored by Joseph Antos from AEI and the late Alice M. Rivlin from Brookings. The event, held at AEI, honored Rivlin and featured an introduction by Concord’s executive director Bob Bixby and a presentation by Antos and Lauren Adler from Brookings, who contributed to the paper.

They highlighted how a viable agenda for growing the economy must include policies to control the growth of health care spending while promoting access to affordable, quality health care and better health outcomes. Otherwise, there would be a big risk that much of the federal budget and the economy’s future growth will be absorbed by an excessively costly health system without appreciable gains in health.

They pointed out that controlling costs will require a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of high spending. It must increase competitive pressures on health care prices, both from the demand- and supply-sides, allowing pressure from patients to help control costs.

Following that there was a panel discussion featuring a diverse group of policy experts that included three former CBO directors.

The Concord project, Toward a Fiscally Responsible Economic Growth Agenda, will officially kick-off at a policy forum on October 3, in Washington DC.. Authors of these two papers, along with those of the three others on immigration, federal investments, and workforce development, will be there to discuss how the ideas for reform can work in tandem to produce economic growth in a fiscally responsible manner.

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