Murray Releases The Opportunity Outlook: A Path for Tackling All Our Deficits Responsibly

New online report lays out principles to tackle all deficits, address long term challenges

Washington, D.C. - Today, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) released The Opportunity Outlook: A Path for Tackling All Our Deficits Responsibly, a new online report that lays out principles for building on the two-year bipartisan budget deal. With greater certainty added to the budget process and an improved fiscal outlook, this online report describes ways to grow our economy and create opportunity by  both tackling our long-term budget challenges responsibly and addressing deficits in critical areas like middle class jobs, education and training, innovation, and infrastructure. 

"Now that Congress has finally stepped away from the constant budget crises with the two-year bipartisan budget agreement, we should take advantage of the greater certainty over the next year and work together to enact policies that create jobs,  encourage broad-based economic growth,  and expand opportunity for all families and workers. This online report will be helpful in laying out some principles and policies that Congress should explore to tackle these challenges,” said Chairman Murray.

View The Opportunity Outlook: A Path for Tackling All Our Deficits Responsibly HERE.

Below are excerpts of the priorities outlined in the Opportunity Outlook:

Tackling our budget deficit and debt fairly and responsibly

“…to tackle our long-run fiscal problems without making today’s economic challenges worse, we will need to take a balanced, responsible approach. There are steps Congress can and should take right now to help tackle our budget challenges, like passing immigration reform, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would grow our economy and reduce budget deficits by nearly $900 billion over the next two decades.  And Republicans and Democrats should work together to further tackle our budget challenges in the way every bipartisan and nonpartisan group has advocated: a smart mix of spending reforms, further changes to continue improving the quality of health care while also reinforcing the existing slowdown in health care cost growth, and tax reform that updates the code for the modern economy while generating more revenue from those who can afford it most.”

Why promoting opportunity is an economic, fiscal and moral imperative

“Millions of families are struggling every day to make ends meet, and millions more are not able to make it at all. This is the real crisis. It is a crisis for those families, of course, and for that reason alone it should demand our attention. But it is also a crisis for our country as a whole. Our country and our economy are strongest when every American has the opportunity to realize his or her potential and fully contribute to society—when the brightness of a child’s future is determined not by the zip code she was born in or her parents’ wealth, but by her own ingenuity and work ethic. If, on the other hand, most people find that real opportunities are scarce, and if a fortunate few have an unfair advantage over the rest, our entire economy will suffer—because great leaders and innovators can come from anywhere as long as everyone has a fair shot.

“This lack of economic opportunity is also a crisis for our budget. Because extreme inequality, a squeezed middle class, and stagnant economic mobility are a drag on our economy, they are a drag on the federal budget as well. When the economy is strong, more people are working and paying taxes and fewer need public assistance. Strong and shared economic growth is critical to fiscal responsibility.

“Beyond the effects on our economy and the federal budget, the lack of economic opportunity for so many Americans presents us with a fundamental moral crisis. It is simply wrong for a child’s future to be largely determined for her before she even learns to walk. And it is simply wrong not to strive each day to live up to the basic American bargain that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead.”

Restoring middle class security

“Perhaps the one “deficit” that best exemplifies the challenges we face is the deficit of good jobs. For some time now, millions of solid middle-class jobs have been disappearing, replaced instead by jobs that offer lower wages, fewer benefits and less security. The Great Recession that began in 2007 greatly exacerbated this jobs deficit. From December 2007 through February 2010, the economy shed 8.8 million private sector jobs.

“The difficult truth that so many middle class families already know all too well is that even those fortunate enough to have a job are still struggling every day to make ends meet. With paychecks stagnant and the cost of basic necessities like child care rising, it can be challenging to make the numbers add up each month. And adding to that burden, given the increased importance of higher education and the reduced prevalence of defined benefit retirement plans, middle class families know they need to save even more for college for their children and for retirement for themselves. For far too many families, these numerous demands create a household budget deficit much more worrying than any in the federal budget.”

Investing in education and training

“Investments in education, from early childhood programs through college, are some of the smartest and most important the federal government can make. Economists have long studied the returns to education and have produced estimates indicating that ‘each additional year of schooling appears to raise earnings by about ten percent in the U.S.,’ with strong evidence of returns to education at all levels and an increased return for higher levels of education in recent decades.  This has the simultaneous effect of increasing productivity and decreasing government deficits due to lower federal aid and increased revenues.

“The economic evidence is overwhelming. If we want to create more opportunity and a stronger economy, we must work on closing the education and training deficit. To do so, we should begin by recognizing some basic principles and guidelines for tackling this challenge.”

Protecting American innovation

“Federal investment in research and development (R&D) has been essential to our tradition of leadership, especially in high-risk basic research, the bulk of which is conducted at our nation’s universities and national laboratories.  By supporting early stage basic research that the private sector might not otherwise undertake, federal investment in R&D has historically played a critical role in encouraging innovation across a broad swath of industries.  Federal investments in basic research have also been a primary mechanism for training a high-skilled STEM workforce that is essential to the innovation economy.”

“Instead of relinquishing our role as a global leader in scientific progress and innovation, we need to recommit to that role and invest boldly in the kinds of research and development that have, historically, paid enormous dividends in the form of jobs and growth. Instead of turning our backs on decades of successful public-private partnerships, we need to build on those successes. In recent years, for example, Democrats have championed innovation and technology “accelerators” throughout the country. These accelerators bring together entrepreneurs and businesses with institutions of higher learning and nonprofits, helping all participants to build off each other’s strengths to supercharge the innovation engine. Over the past several years they have focused on industries spanning aerospace, energy, advanced composites and manufacturing, and information technology, and have helped enable greater sustainable economic growth and regional competitiveness. And while Republicans have churned out budget plan after budget plan with deep cuts to critical and popular R&D agencies, Democrats have fought hard to restore that much-needed funding.”

Repairing our infrastructure

“Addressing the crisis with the Highway Trust Fund is a necessary first step in tackling the broader infrastructure deficit our nation faces. Providing multi-year funding will give states the certainty they need to plan longer-term projects to address some of the nation’s most pressing transportation needs. In addition, by supporting projects that ease congestion and make our roads and bridges safer, we will create jobs and spark economic growth. Ensuring the Highway Trust Fund has multi-year certainty will pave the way for enacting a forward-looking infrastructure system that is efficient, resilient, and meets the needs of American families, communities, and businesses.”

Expanding opportunity for struggling families

“Efforts to keep families out of poverty and provide more economic opportunity are good investments for the nation and have been shown to produce positive long-term results…To make sure families have the opportunity to climb the economic ladder, we need to keep our commitment to maintain strong social safety net and support programs for the most vulnerable Americans.”