In recent months, it has become clear that the nation is divided about how to allocate a limited federal discretionary budget.  Part of this debate has been spurred by growing concern over the long-term fiscal health of the nation.  However, controlling discretionary spending will not fix the economic and budget problems facing the nation.   Earlier this year, a bipartisan commission issued a report (http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/TheMomentofTruth12_1_2010.pdf) proposing sweeping policy initiatives that could help stabilize the nation’s economic and budget woes.  The report has received some attention from policymakers, but has yet to be translated into law.

In a 31 March 2011 statement, six leading representatives from business, academia and science asked President Obama and congressional leaders to make “tough choices on the national deficit.”  According to the statement sent to President Obama and congressional leaders: “An effective deficit reduction plan cannot focus entirely on decreasing discretionary expenditures; it must also include tax reform, spending prioritization and actions to strengthen economic growth.  Largely missing in the budget discussions to date are the entitlement programs, particularly the major ones: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  Any serious and sincere deficit reduction plan must include entitlement reform.”

The statement was signed by:

  • Norman R. Augustine, retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation and former Undersecretary of the Army;
  • John Engler, President, Business Roundtable and former Governor of Michigan;
  • Charles M. Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering;
  • Robert M. Berdahl, President, Association of American Universities;
  • M. Peter McPherson, President, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; and
  • Deborah L. Wince-Smith, President and CEO, Council on Competitiveness.
  • The group further argued: “Economic growth and job creation require federal investment to prepare our children with world-class educations and to support the scientific and technology research and innovation infrastructure that enable the private sector to create jobs and compete in the global economy.  Americans must set priorities and share in the sacrifice required to put our fiscal house in order.  This is consistent with the model discussed in the bipartisan majority report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibilities and Reform – the Bowles-Simpson commission.  We applaud those bipartisan efforts now underway among some Senators to put a broad-based deficit reduction plan on the table, and we welcome the recent letter signed by 64 Senators calling for a ‘broader discussion about a comprehensive deficit reduction package.’”