Close Menu Congressman Kurt Schrader

reducing federal deficit

Opportunities & Suggestions for recently formed Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSC)

In the recent bi-partisan budget agreement, Congress created a committee to design significant fiscal reforms over the next decade. Unlike earlier attempts, if a majority of this bi-partisan "Super Committee" agree on a path forward that plan will be guaranteed an expedited 'up or down' vote in both the House and Senate.

This is a great opportunity for Congress to show our ability to work together to solve one of the toughest problems facing our nation.

However, the success of these efforts depends totally on who is appointed to serve.

Sadly, pragmatic Democratic moderates, representing one-third of all Democrats are totally disenfranchised in the super committee.  On the House side in particular only the progressive wing is represented.  The call by New Democrats and Blue Dogs for moderate, pragmatic, fiscally responsible representation went unheeded. 

The appointed members, while all fine representatives, have not been able to successfully negotiate any agreements in the recent past.  Acknowledging that our Medicare and Social Security programs are in trouble will be particular challenge for these members.  And if we insist on the class warfare/Robin Hood argument of taking from the rich and giving to the poor the battle is lost.

The only way tax reform gets put on the table is to couple it with entitlement reforms.  Instead of being afraid we should embrace this moment as an opportunity to strengthen and preserve these services for the generations to come and enact strong tax reform.

If we have been paying attention and listening to the business community and reasonable Republicans, framing the discussion in terms of reducing tax rates for all Americans and eliminating most special interest tax breaks has broad appeal.  Focusing on eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, while popular and even appropriate, is unfortunately a total non-starter with my Republican colleagues.

The Democratic representatives also have to come to realize that their original charge of finding another $1.2-1.5 trillion in fiscal reforms is insufficient.  The global stock market and credit rating agencies have universally panned that number as inadequate to change the trajectory of America's ultimate insolvency.

S&P has already mildly downgraded America's credit rating and the others have told us they will follow if the committee fails.  We should again welcome this as a golden opportunity to make the case that revenues will have to be on the table.

The President's own fiscal commission, and the Senate Gang of Six, has shown that reasonable spending cuts of $1.2 trillion are possible. However, bi-partisan analysis has shown additional cuts become devastating, seriously harming our ability to provide for the 'common defense' and 'health and welfare' of Americans.

Finally, failure is not an option.  The world is reeling in a lack of confidence in these scary discouraging times.  While we cannot control what happens in Europe we can control our own destiny.

Despite the media hysteria the world's economy, especially America's, is actually in very good shape.  Banks capital balance sheets are solid, business earnings are excellent and there is plenty of cash to invest.

I believe the work of this super committee, using the Fiscal Commission and Senate Gang of Six work from the past two years, can find the right mix of spending cuts and tax reform to improve our long-term fiscal picture by close to $4 trillion.

That success would send a huge positive message to the markets and remove a great deal of the world's uncertainty. It would also guarantee the United States as the premminent economic super power for the years to come, get the $2 trillion in corporate cash off the sidelines to create jobs and ensure our children's future.