Unsustainable deficits in the federal budget threaten the health and vigor of the American economy. When the next president and Congress take office in January 2009, they will face one crucial question that has been almost absent from the current election campaign: how to close the enormous gap between projected federal spending and revenues.
At this public event, some of the nation’s top economists and budget policy experts presented a new paper arguing that the first step toward establishing budget responsibility is to reform the budget decision process so that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—the major drivers of escalating deficits—are no longer on auto-pilot. Organized by the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation, the diverse group included experts affiliated with many different organizations who have found solid common ground. Authors of the paper include Joseph Antos, Robert Bixby, Stuart Butler, Paul Cullinan, Alison Fraser, William Galston, Ron Haskins, Julia Isaacs, Maya MacGuineas, Will Marshall, Pietro Nivola, Rudolph Penner, Robert Reischauer, Alice Rivlin, Isabel Sawhill, and Eugene Steuerle.
Following a summary of the paper by three former Congressional Budget Office directors, the panel took questions from the audience.