Defend or Defund Our Future?

Special Guests: Shai Akabas, Robert Bixby, Ben Ritz

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“Most people recognize the fact that we have a major challenge in America today,” says Shai Akabas of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). “People are living longer and it is getting more and more difficult to save for retirement.”

In the latest “Facing the Future” program Akabas, the center’s director of economic policy, joined host Chase Hagaman and Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby to discuss the BPC’s Funding Our Future campaign. Concord is among the more than 30 partner organizations for the campaign.

The campaign seeks to engage the public and encourage policymakers to address the mounting challenges that face the Social Security system, its beneficiaries and people who are trying to increase their personal savings.

“Nearly 30 percent of Americans between the ages of 30 and 39… have nothing accumulated in retirement savings,” he said. “That is really disconcerting. We have three primary pillars for the campaign which are to make saving easier at all ages, to help people transform their nest eggs into a lifetime of income, and to save Social Security.”

“What we can all unite around is that we need to find solutions to these challenges and get policymakers to address them sooner rather than later,” Akabas said.

Ben Ritz of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) joined the show to discuss that organization’s latest report: “Defunding America’s Future: The Squeeze on Public Investment in the United States.

Ritz, who is director of the Center for Funding America’s Future at PPI, says that more attention needs to be given to the domino effect of rising federal interest costs.

“The larger the debt gets,” he said, “the more interest we have to pay on that debt and that is crowding out a lot of really important public investments.”

Ritz said that public investment includes three categories:

1.) Research and development, which builds intellectual capital

2.) Physical capital investments such as infrastructure as well as other government assets

3.) Education and training, which develops human capital.

Federal spending on public investments has fallen significantly in recent years to less than 1.5 percent of the economy, Ritz said.


Hagaman hosts “Facing the Future” each week on WKXL, (N.H.), which is also available via podcast. Join him and his guests as they 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.

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