CEA Chairs Highlight Importance of Tackling the Deficit

By now, you’ve probably already heard of yesterday’s editorial on the national debt co-authored by ten former heads of the Council of Economic Advisors. In case you haven’t, here’s the nitty-gritty:

Repeated battles over the 2011 budget are taking attention from a more dire problem—the long-run budget deficit.

Divided government is no excuse for inaction. The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, under co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, issued a report on the problem in December supported by 11 Democrats and Republicans — a clear majority of the panel’s 18 members.

As former chairmen and chairwomen of the Council of Economic Advisers, who have served in Republican and Democratic administrations, we urge that the Bowles-Simpson report, “The Moment of Truth,” be the starting point of an active legislative process that involves intense negotiations between both parties.

The CEA heads’ message — that Bowles-Simpson’s recommendations, while not perfect, is the best starting point for negoatiations — is one I’ve pushed repeatedly on this blog. The point is not to pass the report’s recommendations into law wholesale, it’s that having a debate over the particulars (esp. of entitlement spending) could be the only meaningful chance for serious reform.

I’ll cross my fingers, along with the ten CEA heads quoted here, in the hope that Congress realizes that.