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Bowles and Simpson React to the Conference Agreement

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The Fiscal Commission Co-Chairs released this statement on the budget conference agreement.

We are somewhat encouraged by the announcement of the bipartisan budget agreement today. The agreement is but a small step forward in restoring some sanity and order to the budget process, and puts in place a slightly more rational fiscal policy by replacing a portion of the inane across the board cuts in discretionary spending from sequestration with smarter, permanent cuts in mandatory programs.   

Perhaps most importantly, this agreement demonstrates that our leaders in Washington can actually work together to reach some agreement on fiscal policy. We hope that this agreement can serve as a confidence building measure that will lead to agreements on significant deficit reduction as other lawmakers follow the good example set by Chairman Ryan and Chairman Murray to reach a principled compromise.

While this agreement makes only this small step forward, it is yet another missed opportunity to address our long term fiscal problems. The agreement also leaves in place sequester cuts in future years that will have adverse effect on economic productivity and military readiness. The small reforms in this agreement do not address the real long-term drivers of our debt, including the growth of health care entitlement programs and Social Security's funding shortfall. The agreement also fails to provide for tax reform which would make us much more globally competitive while also reducing the deficit.  

These are the difficult challenges our leaders in Washington must eventually come to grips with in order to put the budget on a fiscally sustainable course and ensure a bright economic future for our children and our nation. With this agreement Congress will now have exhausted nearly all of the easy choices available, while leaving the tough but necessary choices regarding entitlements and the tax code unaddressed.

We are pleased the two sides have proven they can find common ground on a small agreement. Now they have to "get crackin'" and work together to reach agreement on the far more difficult task of solving our nation's grave long term fiscal problems.

Dec 10 2013