WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition today commended Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad for proposing a comprehensive fiscal reform plan based on the recommendations of a bipartisan majority of the Simpson-Bowles commission.
“The easy course for Senator Conrad would have been to simply lay out one more partisan budget plan for Washington to argue over,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “Instead, he is doing something far more valuable. He is laying down a nonpartisan marker that was supported by a bipartisan majority on the President’s commission and a bipartisan group of House members, and encouraged by a bipartisan group of 64 in the Senate. This ambitious deficit-reduction plan would put the country on a more responsible course without jeopardizing the economic recovery. It puts everything on the table, dealing with defense, regular domestic spending, the entitlement programs and tax reform.”
President Obama and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan have proposed budgets this year that have some positive elements but fall short of what is needed, as Bixby explains today in an op-ed in Politico. In addition, the plans put forth by Obama and Ryan appeal only to their respective parties. While that approach may please the party faithful, it won’t enable the country to meet the difficult fiscal challenges it faces in the years ahead.
“The shortcomings and lack of bipartisan support for the Obama and Ryan budgets illustrate exactly why we need the Simpson-Bowles plan,” Bixby says. “Senator Conrad’s proposal shows that he clearly understands this. What we need now is for more of his colleagues – some of whom have indicated an interest in Simpson-Bowles -- to follow his leadership in pursuing legislation that reflects the commission’s work.”
As Conrad realizes, Congress must take constructive action soon. The budget is on an unsustainable long-term track, largely as the result of an aging population and rising health care costs. Even in the shorter term, compromise and legislative action are needed because large tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of this year, sharp new “automatic” spending cuts are supposed to begin next January, and the federal debt limit will likely need to be raised again at about the same time.
Ideally, Conrad’s plan would have proceeded rapidly, following the traditional budget resolution timetable. However, voting on the plan by the end of the year -- as Conrad has set as a goal -- would still give Congress a responsible way forward given the impending fiscal deadlines.
A copy of this press release is available at: http://www.concordcoalition.org/press-releases/2012/0418/conrad-coalition-commends-sen-kent-conrad-budget-plan-based-simpson-bowles-
###The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility.