Just Say No

Former Senators Bob Kerrey and Warren Rudman are urging the formation of a new bipartisan commission to address long-term fiscal reform in the United States. Writing in the Washington Post, Securing Future Fiscal Health, the Senators suggest:

Republicans cannot take tax increases off the table, and Democrats cannot take benefit reductions off the table.

And the Senators conclude by asking: “Any takers?”

The simple answer is No.

Everyone should agree that the most immediate fiscal problem is the structural General Fund deficit. Excluding future health care costs, the structural deficit is around 4% to 4.5% of GDP. This serious problem has been caused almost exclusively by Bush’s policies. And imagine if the economy slows next year, as many people expect, adding a cyclical deficit on top of the huge Bush structural deficit.

So isn’t it reasonable to suggest that Mr. Bush and the GOP fix the structural deficit first, before addressing other long-term issues? Of course.

And that means rolling back most of the Bush tax shifts, and / or Bush’s spending on defense and Medicare Part D, and then we can have a commission. Did I mention that year-to-date, the increase in the National Debt has set a new record? (As of Aug 24th, the National Debt has increased $574.4 Billion for fiscal 2006; the fiscal year ends Sept 30th).

So when the Senators ask if there are any takers, just say no.

UPDATE: Please see Professor Samwick’s comments: First Things First

Best to all, CR Calculated Risk