By Vin Weber and Jane Harman
Between us, we served 15 terms in Congress. We belong to different parties and now support different presidential candidates. But this toxic election cycle is no reason to delay a sensible bipartisan solution to our serious budget crisis. We made this argument on these pages one year ago, and the situation has only gotten worse.
The huge missed opportunities to pull together for the country have hurt all American families. Solving the problem is just getting harder. Since last summer, more than $1 trillion has been added to the debt. Worse yet, the White House Office of Management and Budget revised downward its projections for long-term growth, and forecast higher debt loads for every year between now and 2020. The fiscal outlook, despite cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act, is deteriorating — with a projected 76 percent debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio in 2020, up four points from a year ago.
In at least one respect, the “fiscal gap” between the current budgetary outlook and the trajectory required to stabilize a 75 percent debt to GDP ratio by 2050, a new OECD study estimates, the United States is in a worse position than all of Europe. Including debt-plagued Greece, Spain and Italy.
Despite this continuing fiscal decline, the debate about rebalancing U.S. finances has not advanced. This is particularly disappointing because we’ve now had the template for nearly two years: It’s Simpson-Bowles, along with pieces of some other worthy plans.
The formula is simple: spending cuts, entitlement reform and changes to the tax code that bring revenue in line with the historical average of about 18 percent of GDP.