WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition today gave high marks to a budget plan released by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force
and encouraged elected officials and the American public to carefully consider its proposals. “This is a credible and comprehensive path to a more responsible federal budget,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director and a member of the bipartisan task force. “It demonstrates that when people with diverse perspectives commit themselves in good faith to negotiating a comprehensive plan to meet our nation’s fiscal challenges, they can do it.” The task force today issued its final report, recommending spending caps, sweeping improvements in the tax system, and substantial changes in Medicare and Social Security. The goal would be to reduce and stabilize the federal debt below 60 percent of the economy. To help strengthen the economy in the short term, the panel also advocates a one-year break in 2011 from the Social Security payroll tax for both employees and employers. The task force included former White House officials, former members of Congress, former governors and others. It is separate from President Obama’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which is scheduled to release its final report Dec. 1.
Last week the co-chairmen of the president’s commission released draft proposals that Concord praised as a “valuable and sobering fiscal reality check.” Like those proposals, the plan released today by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s task force can help the nation focus on the fundamental choices and trade-offs that will have to be made. The task force’s report illustrates the importance of considering all the available options during budget negotiations and recognizing that compromise will be essential to put the nation on a better fiscal and economic path. “The Bipartisan Policy Center deserves great credit for putting together this task force,” Bixby said, “and I know how hard every member of the panel -- particularly co-chairs Alice Rivlin and Pete Domenici -- worked to develop a strong, specific plan that could be useful to Congress and the country in moving toward consensus.” “No doubt some people will be uncomfortable with some parts of this plan," Bixby added. “But it should be looked at as a negotiated package to which a group of people with a wide range of individual perspectives could agree.” The Concord Coalition urges any critics of the plan to do more than simply complain about the many difficult sacrifices that the task force has suggested. “With a rapidly growing federal debt and entitlement programs headed for insolvency, painful sacrifices are unavoidable,” Bixby said. “To be taken seriously, critics of this plan – or of any proposals from the President’s commission -- should offer credible alternatives to the provisions they don’t like. They shouldn’t act as if we can just keep coasting along with the status quo because, quite simply, we can no longer afford it.”
The Concord Coalition is a national, grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility. Former U.S. Senators Warren B. Rudman (R-NH) and Bob Kerrey (D-NE) serve as its co-chairs and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Peter G. Peterson serves as president. For more information, visit www.concordcoalition.org