Jonathan Goldstein and Apostolos Pittas contributed to this post.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a major speech on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., calling upon Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to act aggressively and pass a major deficit reduction plan that would reform both the tax code and federal entitlement programs.
Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks reinforced a growing chorus of elected officials, former policymakers, and think tanks?including BPC?who have warned that the super committee must find more than merely $1.2-$1.5 trillion in debt reduction during the next decade if the debt curve of the United States is to change in any significant way.
The mayor’s speech comes only two weeks before the super committee must report out its recommendations for changes in national fiscal policy. Bloomberg urged citizens to increase public pressure, sending a strong message to Congress that Americans will not accept inaction and failure from their leaders. (The Concord Coalition provides many tools for ordinary citizens to help out.)
The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force agrees with the mayor that the current uncertainty over the debt is harmful to the markets and a drag on job creation. Bloomberg expressed his view that businesses and investors are unwilling to spend money unless they know how Congress will deal with the deficit.
The Task Force also concurs with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, and others who have called for modestly increasing our deficits in the short-term to spur the recovery, while simultaneously enacting long-term deficit reduction. This two-pronged approach will combine near-term support for the economy with fiscal certainty and sustainability for the future.
The super committee can enact such a plan, but only if both sides are willing to make serious compromises. There can be no sacred cows. Much of the mayor’s deficit reduction framework is in line with the recommendations of the Domenici-Rivlin Task Force. Mayor Bloomberg specifically directed comments at each party, calling on Democrats to accept modest but structural reform of entitlements, and Republicans to accept new revenues, in part by closing tax breaks and loopholes. This give-and-take is the only way to achieve a grand bargain that would show the world that we are serious about our fiscal solvency and have the ability to govern ourselves effectively.
Mayor Bloomberg concluded with perhaps the most important point of the morning: members of Congress must put their love of country before their fear of the next campaign and stand up to special interests. In the mayor’s own words, “the future rests in our own hands. Let’s not screw it up.”
Read BPC’s recommendations to the super committee here.
- Entitlement and Tax Reform: The Two Must-Haves, November 7, 2011
- 100 Democratic and Republican Representatives Urge ‘Go Big’ Approach on Debt, November 3, 2011
- Don’t Forget About Part D, October 27, 2011
- It’s Time for a Holiday!, October 19, 2011