What They're Saying
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget -- along with many other lawmakers, business leaders, former government officials, and organizations -- is calling on leaders in Washington to enact a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan of at least $4 trillion to put the U.S. back on a sustainable fiscal path. In order to stabilize and reduce debt as a share of the economy, lawmakers will have be bold and Go Big.
The Budget Control Act, enacted in early August 2011 to raise the debt-ceiling and avoid default, included $917 billion in immediate deficit-reduction through 2021 and tasked a bipartisan 12-member Joint Congressional Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super Committee) with finding an additional $1.5 trillion by November 23, 2011. Leading up to the Super Committee's deadline, calls urging them to exceed their mandate and Go Big came from numerous influential outside groups, organizations, editorial boards, and various thought leaders from across the political spectrum. In the wake of the Super Committee's failure to reach an agreement, calls for a comprehensive fiscal plan have continued.
Below are some examples of what they're saying.
The Dangerous Fiscal Path that Looms - February 1, 2012
"Debt projections released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office illustrate three fiscal paths: dangerous, dumb and smart...The smart path would deal with the debt in a way that is gradual, balanced between spending cuts and revenue increases and intelligently targeted rather than the current law’s bludgeon. This is the path outlined by debt reduction commissions such as Simpson-Bowles. Unfortunately, it is not the subject of the current debate."
Think Big -- Before It's Too Late - December 3, 2011
"We have a suggestion for elected officials worried about the so-called trigger cuts: Enact a fiscal plan. If the idea is to wait until the 2012 election before acting, we're appalled. Every wasted minute puts Americans and their government deeper in the hole. The same hole in which several vastly overspent, overborrowed peoples and governments of Europe already wallow. It's not too late to make tough decisions and reach a compromise. Congress needs to accept responsibility, seize the initiative and take the lead...Given the historic scale of the crisis, the opportunity exists for far-reaching progress. Hard times like these bring out the best in genuine leaders. Members of Congress, denizens of the West Wing: Put this nation back on track. Think big."
Congress Should Focus on Deficit, Not the Next Election - November 25, 2011
"But from the beginning of this crisis, it has been obvious that the deficit does not have a single cause...Given that reality, it should be obvious to Congress that the problem must be approached from several angles. Tax increases alone won’t solve the problem, and spending cuts large enough to eliminate the deficit would cause major damage to vital government functions and the economy, which is just beginning to improve. It should also be obvious to every member of Congress that solving the problem cannot be done in one giant step."
Dallas Morning News
Gang of 38 Offers A Better Debt Approach - September 19, 2011
"Support from the Gang of 38 shows a big, bold solution is possible. Go for it. The supercommittee should pursue at least $4 trillion in debt reduction. Ideas from the bipartisan debt commission’s 2010 proposal should guide deficit discussions. Long-term entitlement reforms are part of the conversation. Tax reform could help grow the economy."
All Eyes Will Be On Entitlements, Taxes - September 17, 2011
"The supercommittee’s charge to cut $1.2 trillion simply isn’t good enough. Letter writers in this newspaper have pointed out the obvious: $1.2 trillion in cuts isn’t even enough to counterbalance the expected growth in the federal budget over the next decade. The supercommittee does need to “go big.” In fact, to use a common American expression, it needs to go 'supersize.'"
New York Times
Surely They Can Read a Spreadsheet – August 21, 2011
“[B]usiness leaders should be pushing Washington for what is needed to avoid another recession: more near-term spending to stimulate the economy, more revenue to help pay for it, and a balanced approach to the long-term deficit by reducing health care costs and strengthening the tax base.”
What Obama Should Tell 'Supercommittee' – August 15, 2011
“Today I am unveiling my own proposal to the committee that goes well beyond the minimum requirement and cuts the deficit by more than $3 trillion over the next decade, with even bigger dividends in the decades to come.”
The Truths Behind S&P’s Ratings Downgrade – August 9, 2011
“In a few months, the ‘super-committee’ created under the debt ceiling agreement will be tasked with finding another $1.5 trillion to cut from the budget. Failure is not an acceptable outcome, but even success in this short-term goal will not be adequate. More cuts — S&P puts the total savings figure at $4 trillion — must be found, lest the country risk a further downgrade…The political and market turmoil of the past few weeks will be worth it only if the country’s leaders meet the challenge of coming up with full-fledged solutions.”
Default Averted, but Deficit Crisis Still Looms – August 2, 2011
“Even if the congressional "supercommittee" created by the deal comes up with the extra $1.5 trillion it's supposed to agree to by Thanksgiving (slim chance, we fear), the nation will still be on track to add $9 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years. Talk about underachieving.”
U.S. Debt-Ceiling Agreement Is an Alarming Bipartisan Mess – August 2, 2011
“The markets’ response underscores an unfortunate reality: While the government may have averted a self-inflicted disaster, it hasn’t solved fundamental problems and appears to have created new ones. What the U.S. needs is a deficit-reduction plan to address its long-term fiscal gap without weighing too heavily on a weak recovery… Closing the fiscal gap will require political leaders to embrace more ambitious policies and to build popular support for the sacrifices they will entail. These tasks will only be more painful if markets ultimately force them on us. Bold measures -- including overhauling entitlements, rethinking the uniquely dysfunctional U.S. tax code and considering a federal value-added tax -- must be on the table.”
Barack Obama and the Economy - September 7, 2011
"The package should be substantial. Proposals adding up to about $300bn have been mooted: extended cuts in payroll taxes, infrastructure spending, aid to the states to slow their shedding of jobs. This looks far too modest. Tax subsidies for net job creation should be part of the mix. An initiative on housing, with stronger support for principal cuts on distressed mortgages, is needed too, difficult as this may be to design...On longer-term consolidation, Mr Obama must be no less specific. Restoring fiscal control will require spending cuts (including from Social Security and Medicare) and higher taxes (not just on the rich). His party does not want to hear it, but evading these issues will no longer do. To revive his presidency as well as the economy, Mr Obama needs to lead."
Jobs Plans Won't Create Jobs - September 7, 2011
"One of the biggest restraints on the economy is rising health costs, both for private employers and the government. Washington alone is expected to spend some $5.8 trillion on health care in the next five years, $880 billion of which will be increases from this year's spending levels. Repealing "ObamaCare" would do little to change that trajectory and might even kill some useful programs aimed at controlling medical costs. Excessive health care spending not only wreaks havoc on the budget, it also takes capital away from more productive areas. The U.S. health care system spends $6,567 per person a year — twice as much as Canada and Germany — yet still manages to leave 50million people uninsured. Beyond reining in health spending, another proposal that would help the economy would be a vast simplification of the corporate and individual tax codes. Still another would be to put Social Security on a solid footing. If Obama and any of his would-be successors are going to claim that they have a bold employment proposal, they need to tackle these long-term issues."
Outside Experts and Groups
Former Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Judd Gregg (R-NH)
CNN Money, 10/17/11
"The real question is how will the super committee use this unprecedented power? We say be bold! Think big!...If the super committee only reaches the stated goal of reducing by debt by $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion over ten years (or if it fails to reach any agreement), it will have done a great disservice to the American people. It is far short of what is needed to address this debt crisis, and we will continue to lurch toward fiscal chaos, recession and chronic unemployment. That is a future we can avoid if we have the courage to act now.This is a rare opportunity. We say to the super committee: This is one of those rare moments where you have the opportunity to change the course of history. For the sake of our country's economic future, you need to think big and bold."
Committee for Economic Development
Six Standards for the Joint Select Committee, 10/4/2011
"[T]he Committee must reach well beyond its enabling law’s minimal goal of $1.2 trillion of deficit reduction (in addition to the $900 billion in savings already enacted). At least $4 trillion in total savings is needed merely to begin to stabilize the nation’s debt burden, and the financial markets and the ratings agencies could well react adversely to a smaller agreement (or no agreement at all). The potential elements of such an agreement are well known; only political will and action are missing."
Ben Bernanke - Chairman of the Federal Reserve
"The federal budget is clearly not on a sustainable path at present. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, formed as part of the Budget Control Act, is charged with achieving $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction over the next 10 years on top of the spending caps enacted this summer. Accomplishing that goal would be a substantial step; however, more will be needed to achieve fiscal sustainability."
Sen. Judd Gregg - Former Republican Senator from New Hampshire
The Hill, 9/12/11
"The supercommittee needs to use its authority to go well beyond the $1.5 trillion reduction called for and set specific and enforceable procedures for getting our long-term debt on a sustainable path."
Thomas Friedman - New York Times columnist
New York Times, 9/25/11
"If the president really wants to lead from the front, he should summon the Democratic and Republican leadership, along with all 12 members of the House-Senate deficit “supercommittee,” to join him at Camp David and tell the world that they are not coming back without a Grand Bargain — one that offers some short-term jobs stimulus, a credible long-term debt reduction plan with entitlement cuts and tax reform that increases revenues. We desperately need that for two reasons: We need to do our part in leading the world out of this crisis by stabilizing our own economy. And we need to show that we can still act collectively. The toxic paralysis in Washington is, in and of itself, slowing growth."
Michael Gerson - Washington Post columnist
Washington Post, 9/5/11
"The supercommittee represents a second shot at the grand bargain that Obama and Speaker John Boehner were on the verge of concluding in July — a mix of entitlement reforms and revenue increases that agitated partisans in both parties...The committee might choose timidity. It could cobble together some minor spending-reduction proposals from past commissions — enough to make a dent in its $1.5 trillion goal, but not enough to avoid the trigger of some automatic cuts. But the supercommittee also has the option of ambition — avoiding the trigger entirely with measures such as raising the Medicare retirement age, imposing entitlement means-testing and reforming the tax code."
Christine Lagarde - Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
Jackson Hole, 8/27/11
“We are not without options. We know what needs to be done to support growth, reduce debt, and prevent further financial crises. But we need a new approach—based on bold political action, with a comprehensive plan across all policy levers, implemented in a coordinated global way…At first blush, these challenges [fiscal consolidation and growth] seem contradictory. But they are actually mutually reinforcing. Credible decisions on future consolidation—involving both revenue and expenditure—create space for policies that support growth and jobs today. At the same time, growth is necessary for fiscal credibility—after all, who will believe that commitments to cut spending can survive a lengthy stagnation with prolonged high unemployment and social dissatisfaction?...There is a clear implication: we must act now, act boldly, and act together.”
Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson - Co-Chairs, National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
New York Times, 8/3/11
“The bipartisan committee must take on these challenges. It should find savings of far more than $1.2 trillion to get the deficit on track toward sustainability and to reassure markets, maintain our credibility, keep interest rates down and restore Americans’ faith in the political system. To do this, it cannot avoid addressing the ‘big ticket’ items — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security solvency and tax reform.”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Letter to Super Committee, 8/16/11
"The Chamber urges you and your colleagues on the Joint Select Committee to make every effort to fundamentally address these issues by engaging in a true reform of entitlement programs and a complete restructuring of the U.S. tax code."
Mark Zandi - Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics, Inc.
Washington Post, 7/16/11
"About $4 trillion over 10 years is the amount of deficit reduction needed to make the government’s fiscal situation sustainable, keep interest rates low and strengthen our economy in the long run."
John Chambers - Managing Director, Credit Market Services Division, Standard and Poor’s
“$4 trillion … takes you pretty far along. And I think a grand bargain of that nature would signal … the seriousness of policy makers to address the fiscal issues of the United States, to actually stabilize the debt-to-GDP.”
Howard Schultz - Chairman, President, and CEO, Starbucks Corporation
Letter to America, 8/15/11
“[W]e aim to push our elected leaders to face the nation's long-term fiscal challenges with civility, honesty, and a willingness to sacrifice their own re-election. This means not kicking the can anymore. It means reaching a deal on debt, revenue, and spending long before the deadline arrives this fall. It means considering all options, from entitlement programs to taxes.”
John B. Taylor - Economics Professor, Stanford University, and former Treasury Under-Secretary for International Affairs
New York Times, 9/6/11
"Rather than more of such temporary interventions, the American economy needs a new comprehensive economic strategy. A natural starting place is the debt-limit cum spending-control agreement reached this summer. It reduces projected increases in spending over 10 years by $2.1 trillion to $2.4 trillion. The agreement reduces spending growth in a very gradual way, which is appropriate in a weak economy. But it does not fully deal with the debt and the deficit problem, which is why it needs to be embedded in a broader economic strategy with the goal of closing the rest of the budget gap through pro-growth reforms."
Warren Buffett - Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
New York Times, 8/15/11
"Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality."
Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin - Co-Chairs, Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force
Letter to Congressional Leaders, 8/8/11
"We believe that the Congress, through the cuts they have already approved, fully meets the recommendations our task force made in discretionary appropriations accounts. We strongly urge the Joint Select Committee to now move beyond these accounts and to the real drivers of our debt crisis—revenues and entitlements.”
Neel Kashkari - Managing Director, PIMCO
Wall Street Journal, 8/19/11
“[A]ll this stuff we’re talking about, it’s all small ball. None of these have made a big difference. If I were advising right now, I would go and get Simpson-Bowles off the shelf and say, ‘Pass this right now.’ It’s bipartisan. It’s long term. It deals with entitlements and tax reform in the long term. That would give people confidence that Washington is not in complete dysfunction and can deal with long-term policy.”
Maya MacGuineas - President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
Press Release, 8/1/11
“[T]he real questions now will revolve around the Joint Committee. They should hold themselves to a higher standard—aiming to save significantly more than the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction prescribed – including by not only recommending more savings, but also proposing long-term entitlement changes and pro-growth tax reform.”