Archive | February, 2010

All bark, no bite? The “Defeat the Debt” Campaign Reviews Recent Presidential Fiscal Commissions

Posted on 18 February 2010

Past Commissions’ Difficulties Could Mean Trouble for President Obama’s Debt Commission

Washington, D.C. — The “Defeat the Debt” campaign, a project of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), today released an analysis of recent presidential commissions. It raises questions about the ability of President Obama’s commission to tackle our $1.4 trillion budget deficit.

“While the goals of this debt commission are laudable, I am skeptical that the administration and Congress will act on their recommendations in a substantial manner,” said Rick Berman, Executive Director of EPI. “This debt commission was created because Congress doesn’t have the political will to confront the entitlement programs driving our national debt.”

The last two presidents have also appointed commissions to address growth in entitlement spending. EPI found that the results were unimpressive:

  • 1995: President Clinton’s Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform — a 32-member bipartisan panel tasked with creating a plan to control the growth of programs like Medicare and Social Security — couldn’t reach a consensus solution. The commission didn’t offer official recommendations, simply concluding that “the present trend is not sustainable.”
  • 1997: President Clinton’s 13-member commission on Social Security released three separate proposals on reforming the entitlement program. Congress failed to act on any of the proposals.
  • 2001: President Bush’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security reached an agreement on broad principles of reform, but failed to reach a consensus on a particular plan. Three alternatives were released, one of which President Bush embraced in 2005. This “privatization” campaign was roundly rejected by Congress and the public.

“Our country can’t afford another powerless commission that takes a long time to produce a widely-ignored report,” said Berman. “If Congress and this administration are serious about cutting the debt, the solution is simple — stop spending money that we don’t have. Now. It’s easy — Just say ‘NO.’”

EPI’s “Defeat the Debt” campaign aims to highlight the threat posed by unsustainable borrowing and spending by the federal government. The campaign includes a national television commercial, which has aired on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, and — most recently — in the Washington, DC area during the Super Bowl. In January, EPI placed two adjoining billboards in New York’s Times Square, featuring a bedraggled Uncle Sam begging for $12 trillion from taxpayers.

For more information or to arrange an interview please call Sarah Longwell at 202-463-7650

The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues that affect the American economy.

President Obama Signs $1.9 Trillion Increase in Debt Ceiling, Continues Charade of Fiscal Responsibility

Posted on 12 February 2010

Today, President Obama signed into law a $1.9 trillion increase in the federal debt ceiling. Rick Berman, executive director of the Employment Policies Institute, released the following statement:

The effectiveness of a debt reduction plan can be judged by the outrage it generates. This is because an effective plan would cut the outsized entitlements and pork-barrel projects that are “sacred cows” of powerful interest groups.

Yet there’s been no outrage over Congress’ promises of fiscal responsibility or over the President’s proposed debt commission.

These “toothless” and ineffective measures don’t fool anyone here in Washington, but our elected representatives are cynically hoping they’ll fool the American people.

If the President or Congress wanted to cut spending, they could do so today. Instead, the President recently committed to a “freeze” that eliminates four-tenths of one percent of the spending in the federal budget over three years.

Continuing this charade of fiscal discipline, while authorizing a staggering $1.9 trillion in additional debt, is a weak response to a crisis.

The nation can’t survive another round of broken promises.

This city has no shortage of good solutions to our debt. But there’s an utter lack of serious people willing to act on them.

To arrange an interview please call Sarah Longwell at 202-463-7650

The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues that affect the American economy.

Washington’s Real Scary Storm: 8.5 Feet of Debt

Posted on 11 February 2010 released the following statement today, quantifying the size of the national debt and comparing it to DC’s “snowpocalypse”:

Over the past few weeks, residents of Washington, DC have been inundated with media coverage of the blizzard that President Obama called “the snowpocalypse.” While the snowfall was significant, in that same time only a relative handful of stories have covered a far more frightening story: a $1.9 trillion increase in the national debt ceiling, the largest debt in the history of the world.

The snow is beginning to melt, but the debt keeps piling up — we’re at $12.3 trillion and counting. And while the unexpected blizzards caught city officials with their snowpants down, the impending debt crisis has been apparent for years.

To put the size of the debt in perspective, $12.3 trillion in pennies would cover the entire District of Columbia to a depth of nearly nine feet, triple the depth of the recent snow. If that happened, of course, we might actually see some real attention paid to the problem.