We’re on the road again!
As the U.S. economy regains its footing, policymakers must shift their attention to the pre-existing structural imbalances that have put us on a path of chronically slow economic growth and unsustainable debt over the long-term.
While recent economic news has been positive, we can’t lose track of the fact that even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that real GDP growth would average less than two percent annually over the long-term and that budget deficits would top one trillion dollars or more every year into the future. Debt held by the public was projected to more than double over the next 30 years.
This was the pre-pandemic “normal.” It is not an acceptable goal for recovery. Instead, policymakers should set their standards higher, to achieve an economy that grows at a more robust pace over the long-term and to set a fiscal policy that can be sustained.
The pandemic required a vigorous response, but it did not change two fundamental facts:
The economy is suffering from deep structural challenges stemming from declining workforce growth and stagnant productivity.
The budget is on an unsustainable path, with costs for major retirement and health care programs projected to grow substantially faster than revenues.
Nor did it change the enormity of the burden that will be passed on to the youth of today and future generations to come. Chronically slow economic growth and unsustainable debt carry much more risk for young Americans than it does for older generations, and they need to have a voice in solutions. As our Concord Coalition co-chairs, former U.S. Senators Jack Danforth and Bob Kerrey, have said:
“It’s become all too clear that America can’t build a sound economy on a foundation of unsustainable debt. The longer lawmakers wait to act, the more difficult the solutions will be—and the greater the risks for future generations.”
The Wall Street Journal, op-ed, June 20, 2021
To address these issues, The Concord Coalition is initiating a Facing the Future Tour in 2022 aimed at college campuses, interested constituency groups, local media, and elected officials in battleground states and other key locations around the country.
The tour coincides with the 30th anniversary of The Concord Coalition’s founding in September of 1992. Our ambitious goal is to take the tour to 30 locations across the nation, amplifying the message that business as usual won’t solve our fiscal challenges.
We will convene nonpartisan forums on campus, presenting basic facts and thought-provoking solutions from analysts of diverse perspectives. In today’s polarized environment, it is crucial to cut through the bitter partisan rhetoric and have an open and honest dialogue on the economic challenges we face, what we want our nation’s future to look like, and the required trade-offs. To that end, the 2022 Facing the Future Tour will feature speakers whose views are taken seriously by both sides of the partisan divide, even when advocating differing perspectives. The American Action Forum, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and the Progressive Policy Institute have agreed to join us as participating organizations in the tour, providing speakers and their latest policy proposals.
The tour will extend throughout 2022. We will hold as many in-person events as possible, though we will keep the virtual option open as circumstances dictate. Regardless of the format, all events will ensure ample opportunity for questions, suggestions, and ideas from the audience.
I am excited to take The Concord Coalition message back on the road again as we embark on our nationwide tour. For more details about bringing the Facing the Future Tour to your campus, please send me an email – [email protected] – or give me a call at (404) 354-7445. See you down the road!