Old Ways Aren't Working

In a letter to The Concord Monitor, Chase Hagaman, New England regional director for The Concord Coalition, urges lawmakers to change the status quo and start addressing the nation's long-term fiscal challenges. The column can also be found here.  

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Congress seems to ignore this old saying when it comes to our nation's daunting fiscal problems.

Lawmakers stick with the status quo and hope these problems will simply disappear.

The Congressional Budget Office's new long-term budget outlook echoes the warnings of years past - tax and spending policies have taken on an unsustainable nature, and hard choices must be made.

Entitlement programs are growing exponentially, tax revenues fail to cover our expenses, interest payments on the federal debt already overshadow the budgets of some of our largest government agencies, and parts of the budget are slated for unrealistically large cuts.

In fact, the budget office projects that federal spending will outpace both revenue generation and economic growth under current law, causing budget deficits to widen again within a few years.

The debt already equates to 74 percent of GDP, and current law will only force that ratio to grow unsustainably. Such high and rising debt levels will reduce national savings, put pressure on critical government services, limit lawmakers' ability to respond to unforeseen events and increase the likelihood of another fiscal crisis.

Elected officials know how we got here: excessive partisanship, short-term thinking and pandering to special interests. They understand that solutions exist, yet Congress continues misguided policies and ignores the need for compromise.

If we as a nation do not want to look insane, we must pursue different policies to get different results.