Peterson Foundation Statement on Reconciliation Bill Progress in the House

Sep 15, 2021

NEW YORK — Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, commented today as Congressional leaders propose provisions of the budget reconciliation bill. Peterson said:

“It’s a positive sign that House lawmakers have put forward proposals that would largely offset the bill’s cost, but given our nation’s precarious fiscal position, they need to hold firm to their commitment to fully pay for this significant new spending. As the bill moves through the process, there is no shortage of options to fully pay for these new programs using credible offsets and realistic assumptions.

“At the same time, we must remember that it’s not enough to simply pay for new spending. America faces a wide array of challenges, and it is the job of our elected leaders to prioritize needs, develop solutions, and determine how to pay for them. One of our nation’s major challenges lies in the fact that many prior Congresses and administrations have neglected their responsibility to manage a sustainable budget, leaving the country on a long-term fiscal path that endangers the viability of key programs and harms the economic prospects of the next generation.

“Prior to this new legislation, we are already on pace to add $13 trillion in debt over the next ten years — with deficits that keep rising as far as the eye can see. This larger, structural fiscal imbalance is well-known, and existed long before the pandemic.

“Key programs like Medicare and Social Security — relied upon by millions of Americans — are on a path to depletion by 2026 and 2033, respectively. A safety net that can’t be relied on isn’t much of a safety net at all. In calibrating the size and scope of the new programs in this bill, lawmakers should consider the sustainability of creating new entitlement programs when existing essential programs are already facing insolvency.

“In order to have the resources we need to truly solve our nation’s challenges over the long run, including many of the concerns addressed by this bill, we must build our economic future on a sustainable fiscal foundation. Ensuring an inclusive and moral economic system means not only responsibly addressing today’s needs, but also securing our long-term fiscal position so the next generation can confront the challenges of tomorrow and have their own chance to build broad based prosperity and opportunity.”

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