Debate Club

Alan Simpson: The Country Must Act to Address the Debt

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My old pal Erskine Bowles and I were deeply disappointed by the failure to reach agreement on a long-term plan to put the country back on a fiscally sustainable path during negotiations leading up to the "fiscal cliff." But the problem isn't going away, so neither are we! That's why we decided to go "once more unto the breach" and put forward a blueprint for a new framework to address our mounting debt.

This country needs to act—and soon—to put in place a plan which will truly deal with our destructive debt problem and put that debt on a clear downward path relative to the economy. And we shouldn't do that with stupid, mindless, across-the-board cuts (sequester) to important investments; we should replace these cuts with targeted spending cuts, structural entitlement reforms, and comprehensive tax reform.

[See a collection of political cartoons on sequestration and the fiscal cliff.]

We simply can not afford another year of fiscal brinksmanship with no real solutions being offered by either side. There is no way around it: Democrats and Republicans are going to have to come together to find common ground if they have any hope of hauling the country back on a fiscally sustainable path.

Our present activity is to remind both sides how close they were last December before negotiations broke down. And we wanted to push both sides to go outside of their comfort zones in the spirit of principled compromise.

We said that Democrats are going to have to go further in reforming entitlements, particularly healthcare—than they would want, but we can and must do it in a way that protects the most vulnerable in our society. We said Republicans are going to have to accept more revenues, not through tax increases but through tax reform which repeals or reforms various deductions, exclusions, loopholes, and credits—which are really just spending by another name and most of which go mainly to the wealthy—in order to reduce the deficit and lower rates.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

There is no one solution to the problem, and the proposal we put forward is not perfect and is not even our ideal plan. It is the minimum that needs to be done to bring our debt under control. It is going to take real guts and political courage on both sides to come together to find common ground for the good of the country. We hope this plan can serve as a mark for those discussions to move forward.

It is time to revive the grand bargain. It is our best present hope for sustained economic growth and a brighter future.

Alan Simpson

About Alan Simpson Former Senator


Other Arguments

#1
290 Pts
We Need Job Creation, Not Talk of Debt-to-GDP Ratios

No – We Need Job Creation, Not Talk of Debt-to-GDP Ratios

Dean Baker Codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research

#2
98 Pts
We Could Do Worse Than the Latest Bowles-Simpson

Yes – We Could Do Worse Than the Latest Bowles-Simpson

Garett Jones Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University

#4
39 Pts
The Bowles-Simpson Plan Has the Wrong Priorities

No – The Bowles-Simpson Plan Has the Wrong Priorities

Ethan Rome Executive Director of Health Care for America Now

#6
-26 Pts
Bowles-Simpson a Tax Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

No – Bowles-Simpson a Tax Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Romina Boccia Research Coordinator for the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation

#7
-73 Pts
Bowles-Simpson Doesn't Address Unsustainable Healthcare Spending

No – Bowles-Simpson Doesn't Address Unsustainable Healthcare Spending

Alex Brill Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

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