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Our nation needs to get its fiscal house in order.
To do so, citizens must fully demand leaders who are willing to put partisan differences aside and come together to present the American people with honest solutions and consensus proposals that put the national interest ahead of special interests.
That is why we were so disheartened to learn that Rep. Scott Peters is being criticized for his support of a budget based on the plan recommended in 2010 by a bipartisan majority of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which we co-chaired.
Over the last few weeks, the San Diego airwaves have been filled with “issue ads” from Crossroads GPS, a Republican-aligned political organization, criticizing Peters for his support of a “controversial budget plan.”
This criticism is based on his support for using the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles plan we put forward on behalf of the commission as the basis for a bipartisan agreement to reduce the debt.
The plan included significant spending cuts, along with reforms of entitlement programs and the tax code to reduce and stabilize the debt relative to our economy and make Social Security financially sound for future generations.
The Simpson-Bowles plan is a comprehensive, tough-minded and pragmatic approach to attacking our national debt. Because it seeks to tackle the hard problems, it came under savage attack from partisan interests from both ends of the spectrum. We need members of Congress who have the guts to ignore these scare tactics to look at the substance of real solutions that will help get our great nation back on track.
Congress’ inability to make important compromises is truly threatening the state of our nation.
We need more members of Congress like Peters who are willing to move beyond rigid ideological positions and work toward bipartisan solutions to the big problems facing our nation, such as our national debt.
We have never claimed our plan is perfect, and we do not expect anyone to agree with every aspect of our proposal. But we believe it provides the necessary framework for bringing our mounting debt under control instead of continuing the trend of inaction and allowing pressing legislation to simply gather dust in Washington.
The Simpson-Bowles plan demonstrated that it is possible to raise revenues for deficit reduction through pro-growth tax reforms that reduce tax rates and make our tax code internationally competitive and more progressive. Likewise, it shows it is indeed possible to preserve and strengthen Social Security and Medicare for today’s seniors and the most vulnerable in society, while making the changes necessary to ensure they are fiscally sound for future generations.
It is also worth noting that the Simpson-Bowles commission report was supported by a bipartisan supermajority of 11 of the 18 members of the commission, receiving the votes of five Democrats, five Republicans and one independent with an ideological range from Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois to Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
In their willingness to swallow politically difficult choices and the ability to compromise on an issue without compromising themselves, we saw the work of the commission serve as an example of what Congress must do to address our national debt.
As the two of us travel the country, we find that the vast majority of our fellow citizens understand the grave threat posed by mounting debt and are thirsting for political leaders to demonstrate the guts, integrity and common sense needed to make the tough choices so necessary to rein in the dangerous national debt. Members of Congress like Peters, who are willing to put partisanship aside and step forward to make those tough decisions, deserve the thanks of everyone who really cares about our nation’s future.
Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson served as co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and are co-founders of the Campaign to Fix the Debt. Their commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.