Fiscal Commission Co-Chair Plan Includes Third Way Deficit Proposals

Think Tank Backs Plan; Challenges Left and Right to “Put Up or Shut Up”

November 10, 2010

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Washington: Third Way today applauded Commission Co-Chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson for their serious proposal to restore fiscal balance, thanked them for including a number of Third Way proposals, and challenged both the left and the right to “put up or shut up.” President Jon Cowan said: “Critics from both sides have already begun to carp. But if America is going to achieve the same economic success in the 21st century that we achieved in the last, we must get control of our runaway deficit spending, reform our tax code, and make crucial public investments. The Commission Co-Chairs did not shrink from the task; rather, they rose to it.”

Cowan continued: “This proposal has already come under withering assault from the ideological wings of both parties. To those on the right, we say that over the past twelve months you have campaigned relentlessly and ruthlessly on reducing federal deficits. But your record is poor – during the time when conservatives controlled both the White House and Congress, you not only failed to rein in spending or tax responsibly, you turned record surpluses into record deficits. Now there is an opportunity for conservatives to support real fiscal responsibility rather than mouthing symbolic platitudes. We hope that conservatives show the courage of their convictions and stand with the Commission Co-Chairs, not just where it’s easy for them, on spending cuts, but where it’s hard, on things like tax reform.

“To those on the left, we say that we cannot ignore our burgeoning entitlement crisis any longer. By 2030, our country is projected to spend sixty-eight cents of every federal dollar on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt. That is a portrait of a federal budget on autopilot, unable to invest in our children, new energy technologies, infrastructure and innovation. It is the budget of an also-ran nation, not a thriving one. And we will not be able to afford the safety net that we spent 80 years creating and perfecting.

“Finally, like everyone involved in this debate, we acknowledge this is not ‘the perfect plan.’ But we strongly support their honest look at all facets of spending, including Social Security, Medicare, and federal retirement, as well as national security and domestic discretionary spending. And we would like to express our appreciation to the Co-Chairs for including in their recommendations many of the ideas that Third Way formally and informally submitted to the Commission, including (but not limited to): reforming federal pensions; revising tort laws on medical malpractice; biennial budgeting; raising the Social Security retirement age; and moving to a chain-weighted consumer price index.”

You can read Jim Kessler’s testimony before the Commission here, Third Way’s Growth Not Greece deficit reduction proposals here, and Jim Kessler & David Kendall’s recent op-ed for The Hill on the need for deficit reduction here.

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