Conrad Supports Fiscal Commission Package
Budget Chairman Cites Urgency of Reducing Debt to Avert Fiscal Crisis
Washington, DC - Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) today announced he supports the far-reaching debt reduction package produced by the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. While noting he did not favor every provision in the plan, Conrad – a member of the Commission – cited the urgency of adopting a bipartisan package to avert a national fiscal crisis.
“This is a moment of truth,” said Chairman Conrad. “The nation is headed for a fiscal cliff. We have to act. This is the time for us to pull together. If not now, when? We need to have the courage to do the right thing for our children, for our grandchildren, and for our nation’s future.
“To be clear, I am supporting this plan as a package, because it represents genuine bipartisan compromise, with both Democrats and Republicans making concessions. I don’t like everything in this package, but I like even less where our country is headed without it. It would be much easier to say no and to oppose this plan. I certainly would have done some things differently if I were writing it myself. But you can’t have everything you want.
“Anyone watching the spreading debt crisis in Europe over the last few days – in Ireland, Portugal, and Spain – understands the threat we face is real. We can’t afford to wait until the crisis is upon us.”
The proposal, co-written by Commission Co-Chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, would reduce deficits by $3.9 trillion over the next decade and cut debt as a share of the economy to below 60 percent by 2025. The deficit reduction is phased in gradually to avoid harming the nation’s economic recovery. Additionally, the proposal takes the following specific steps:
It cuts wasteful and lower-priority discretionary programs and maximizes efficiencies throughout the government.
It contains additional health care savings that fully offset the cost of permanently fixing the Medicare physician payment system, and, over the long-term, it slows the growth in total federal health spending.
It reforms Social Security to extend its solvency for at least 75 years and puts the program on a more sustainable path beyond 75 years. The savings in Social Security are used only for extending the program’s solvency, not for deficit reduction. In addition, it takes the important step of establishing a new special minimum benefit.
It calls for reforming and simplifying the tax code by eliminating or scaling back many individual deductions and credits, and significantly lowering tax rates for all taxpayers. The resulting tax code would be more progressive, improve the ability of American businesses to compete globally, and bring in more revenue to help bring down the deficit and debt.
“One of this plan’s most notable achievements is that it embraces fundamental reform of the tax code,” said Conrad. “The current code is outdated, overly complex, and inefficient, resulting in the leakage of hundreds of billions of dollars each year due to loopholes, abusive tax shelters, offshore tax havens, and tax avoidance and evasion. This plan will make the tax code
fairer and more efficient, and it makes clear that revenues, as well as spending, must be part of the solution to our deficit problems.”
The Commission, which President Obama established by Executive Order last February, was tasked with coming up with a bipartisan plan to address the nation’s long-term fiscal imbalance. The panel was modeled after the Bipartisan Fiscal Task Force legislation proposed by Chairman Conrad and his Republican counterpart on the Budget Committee, Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. The Commission’s proposal must be supported by at least 14 of the 18 Commission members in order to be guaranteed a vote in Congress.
“I hope this package gets 14 votes,” added Conrad. “But if it does not, this Commission was still well worth the effort. It has laid the groundwork so that progress can be made going forward. There is an absolute sea-change in people’s understanding of the dangers of inaction and the tough choices we face. Without question, the work of the Commission has fundamentally moved the ball forward.
“Now, the President and Congress must finish the job. If this package does not move forward in its current form, I will do my part to work to make this plan even better. More than ever before, the American people want us, and are depending on us, to act.”
Press Contact: Stu Nagurka (202) 224-7436
Steve Posner (202) 224-7925
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