Op-ed: Calling On Congress to Stop The Debt Tsunami

Publication: The Washington Post

Author: David S. Broder


12/18/2009 - The 34 names are familiar to anyone who has followed economic policy in Washington for the past generation, one-third of them former chairmen or members of key committees of Congress, seven of them former directors of the White House Office of Management and Budget, two of them former comptroller generals of the United States, seven of them former directors of the Congressional Budget Office, and one of them -- Paul Volcker -- a former chairman of the Federal Reserve System and now an adviser to President Obama.

Both political parties are well represented in their number. But they came together this week as signatories of a nonpartisan manifesto, essentially a stark warning to the president and Congress and a plea for action on behalf of the next generation.

The United States, they unanimously said, is facing "a debt-driven crisis -- something previously viewed as almost unfathomable in the world's largest economy." Under the impact of the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression, the federal government ran a deficit of $1.4 trillion this past year. The rescue effort was necessary, but in 2009 alone, the public debt grew 31 percent, from $5.8 trillion to $7.6 trillion, rising from 41 percent to 53 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

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To avoid those consequences, these experts -- writing under the auspices of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget -- suggest a series of steps.

First, they want Obama in his State of the Union address to urge Congress to join in a pledge to stabilize the debt at no higher than 60 percent of GDP by 2018. (Remember, it is 53 percent now.) This would require actions by Congress and the administration to start reducing the projected annual deficits, which add to the debt, starting in 2012.

Read the full article Calling On Congress to Stop The Debt Tsunami on The Washington Post Web site.


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