Programs Underscore Importance of Public Engagement

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Hundreds of people in Florida recently gathered to examine federal budget issues, question former members of Congress and push for sustainable fiscal policy.

The Concord Coalition and Fix the Debt partnered with two universities and eight former lawmakers to present the late September programs.

A program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando featured a panel with Reverend John Allen Newman and former U.S. House members Bill Zeliff, Jason Altmire, Allen Boyd, Cliff Stearns and Tom Tauke. They emphasized the importance of reducing deficits while still making critical investments in the future.

Audience members then participated in “Principles & Priorities,” Concord’s budget exercise. They worked in 26 groups that cut projected deficits by an average total of almost $2 trillion over the next decade.

That evening a forum on the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus featured former Representative Jim Davis, former Senator George LeMieux, Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby and Marc Goldwein, senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Chase Hagaman, a regional director for Concord and panel moderator, said the lively discussion ranged from defense spending to interest on the federal debt. In a new blog post, he also said audience questions were “thoughtful, challenging and often reflected deep concern.”

Hagaman finds such strong public engagement encouraging: “Citizens seem ready for real change – Congress should be, too.”

Last Wednesday another program, also co-sponsored by Concord and Fix the Debt, drew nearly 200 people in Pewaukee, Wisc. Keynoting was Paul Stebbins, executive chairman for World Fuel Services Corporation, who said fiscal reform could ensure economic growth, international competitiveness and the well-being of future generations.

External links:
University of South Florida Forum Presentation
Principles and Priorities

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