Nov 15, 2012

In January 2013, a series of tax increases and spending cuts are slated to go into effect automatically and all at once. Many are calling this major fiscal policy shift the "Fiscal Cliff." If all of the changes are allowed to proceed, future budget deficits would be substantially reduced. However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has forecast that the economy would be thrown into recession in 2013 — an outcome that threatens our still-fragile economic recovery.

The Fiscal Cliff presents a critical opportunity for policymakers, and a real turning point for the country. Instead of allowing our economy to go over the Fiscal Cliff, or once again avoiding action on our nation’s long-term debt and deficits, leaders should seize this opportunity to pass a comprehensive, bipartisan plan to deal with our long-term structural debt and put America on the path to a stronger economic future.

How can Congress and the President avoid the negative near-term impact of the Fiscal Cliff while still taking decisive action to reduce budget deficits and improve our long-term fiscal outlook? On November 16th in Washington, DC, The Peter G. Peterson Foundation will bring together top leaders and policy experts to get answers and urge action before the end of the year.

As national attention turns from the election to the impending Fiscal Cliff, "Post-Election: The Fiscal Cliff and Beyond" will set the agenda for the debate to come. Elected officials and leading policymakers will discuss potential paths forward within the context of the political and economic challenges we face, and five of the country’s most respected think tanks will present their proposals for addressing the Fiscal Cliff, while highlighting their top policy priorities for the new Congress and incoming Administration.

Participant Biographies

Josh Bivens

Research and Policy Director, Economic Policy Institute

Josh Bivens joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2002. He is a co-author of the recently released 12th Edition of the State of Working America, as well as the author of Failure by Design and Everybody Wins Except for Most of Us: What Economics Teaches About Globalization. He has published articles in both academic and popular venues and is a frequent commentator on economic issues for a variety of media outlets.

Erskine Bowles

Co-Founder, Fix the Debt Campaign
Co-Chair, National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform

Erskine Bowles served with Senator Alan Simpson as the co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. In the Clinton Administration, he served as the director of the Small Business Administration, and as White House chief of staff. He was president of the University of North Carolina system from 2006 until 2010. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1967) and Columbia University's Graduate School of Business (1969).

Peter Cook

Chief Washington Correspondent & Host of "Capitol Gains"

Peter Cook is Bloomberg Television's chief Washington correspondent and the host of "Capitol Gains," which airs on Bloomberg Television and WUSA in Washington, D.C., on Sundays. He covers the intersection between business and government in Washington, and reports on the Obama administration, Congress, the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Pentagon and regulatory agencies. Cook, who joined Bloomberg Television in 2003, regularly talks to the key decision makers setting government policy. Prior to joining Bloomberg, he was a producer and reporter for NBC News and MSNBC in Washington. Cook is a graduate of Duke University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Michael Ettlinger

Vice President for Economic Policy, Center for American Progress

Michael Ettlinger is the Vice President for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. At CAP, Ettlinger heads up an economic policy team including economists as well as experts on a range of economic policy issues including taxation, higher education, labor policy, budget policy, financial markets, government reform, work-life, and trade. Prior to joining the Center, Ettlinger spent six years at the Economic Policy Institute directing the Economic Analysis and Research Network. At EPI, Ettlinger focused on regional economic development and state-level economic policy. Prior to EPI, Ettlinger was tax policy director for Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy for 11 years. He holds degrees from Cornell University and American University.

Martin Feldstein

George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard University
Former Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers

Martin Feldstein is the George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard University and President Emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research. From 1982 through 1984, Dr. Feldstein was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and President Reagan's chief economic adviser. In 2009, President Obama appointed him to be a member of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. He is a Trustee of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Trilateral Commission, the Group of 30, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council of Academic Advisors of the American Enterprise Institute. He is also an economic adviser to several businesses and government organizations in the United States and abroad, and a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Alison Acosta Fraser

Director, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation

Alison Acosta Fraser oversees Heritage Foundation research on a wide range of domestic economic issues including federal spending, taxes, energy, environment, financial markets, regulation, and retirement savings. Fraser’s television appearances include CNBC, CNN, FOX, Bloomberg, PBS and the BBC. Her commentaries have appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Post, National Review Online, The Washington Times and USA Today. Before joining Heritage in 2003, Fraser was Deputy Director of the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, and a budget manager in Orange County, California, where she developed recommendations for bankruptcy recovery.

Alan Greenspan

Former Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve Board
President, Greenspan Associates LLC

For eighteen and a half years, Alan Greenspan served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and earlier (1974-1977) as Chairman of President Ford’s Council of Economic Advisers. From 1981 to 1983, he served as Chairman of the National Commission on Social Security Reform. Before his appointment to the Fed in 1987, Dr. Greenspan served as a director of J.P. Morgan, Mobil, Alcoa, General Foods, and Capital Cities/ABC. Dr. Greenspan has received the Legion of Honor from France (Commander), became an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire and received the Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civil award. He currently heads Greenspan Associates and is the author of The Age of Turbulence. He is married to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin

President, American Action Forum
Former Director, Congressional Budget Office

Douglas Holtz-Eakin has a distinguished record as an academic, policy adviser, and strategist. He is currently the President of the American Action Forum and most recently was a Commissioner on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. He was the 6th director of the Congressional Budget Office and served as chief economist of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (2001-2002). In 2008, he served as the director of domestic and economic policy for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. Dr. Holtz-Eakin began his career at Columbia University in 1985 and moved to Syracuse University from 1990 to 2001. At Syracuse, he became Trustee Professor of Economics at the Maxwell School, Chairman of the Department of Economics and Associate Director of the Center for Policy Research.

Donald Marron

Director, The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
Former Acting Director, Congressional Budget Office

Donald Marron is an expert on U.S. economic policy and federal budgeting. Since joining the Urban Institute as director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, his work has focused on tax reform and America’s long-run fiscal challenges. From 2002 through early 2009, he served in senior government positions, including as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, acting director of the Congressional Budget Office, and executive director of Congress's Joint Economic Committee. Dr. Marron has also taught at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, consulted on major antitrust cases, and served as chief financial officer of a health care software start-up.

Peter R. Orszag

Vice Chairman, Corporate and Investment Banking, Citigroup
Former Director, Office of Management and Budget

Peter R. Orszag is Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking at Citigroup, Inc. He is also a Contributing Columnist at Bloomberg View, a Distinguished Scholar at the NYU School of Law and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Orszag previously served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama Administration, and as Director of the Congressional Budget Office. He graduated summa cum laude in economics from Princeton University and obtained a Ph.D. in economics from the London School of Economics, which he attended as a Marshall Scholar. Dr. Orszag is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ideas42, and the Partnership for Public Service.

Dr. Alice Rivlin

Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force
Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

Alice M. Rivlin is an economist specializing in fiscal, monetary and social policy. She is a Senior Fellow in the Economic Studies Program at Brookings and a Visiting Professor at the Public Policy Institute of Georgetown University. In 2010, Rivlin was named by President Obama to the Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. She also co-chaired, with former Senator Pete Domenici, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Debt Reduction. Rivlin served as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board (1996-99). She was Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget in the first Clinton Administration and the founding Director of the Congressional Budget Office (1975-83).

Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL)

House Majority Chief Deputy Whip

Born and raised in the district he serves, Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam is in his third term in the United States House of Representatives. According to The Washington Post, Roskam "serves as a calming, drama-free influence" on Capitol Hill, and is praised for his ability to distill complex national issues to their core. Roskam graduated from the University of Illinois before spending his early career in the office of his mentor, Congressman Henry Hyde. He later earned his J.D. from Kent College of Law. Often referred to as the House Republicans' "listener-in-Chief," Roskam uses his roles in leadership and on the Ways and Means Committee to fight for fiscal responsibility and common sense tax initiatives. He is a co-author of the Pledge to America and played an active role in securing a landslide House majority in 2010. Roskam lives in Wheaton with his wife and family.

Senator Alan Simpson

Co-Founder, Fix the Debt Campaign
Co-Chair, National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform

Senator Alan K. Simpson served with Erskine Bowles as the co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978 and served three consecutive terms. He was also the Republican whip from 1985 to 1995. An Army veteran, he has served as the assistant attorney general of Wyoming and a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives. He is a graduate of the University of Wyoming at Laramie and the University of Wyoming School of Law.

Gene Sperling

Director, National Economic Council Assistant to the President for Economic Policy

Gene Sperling is Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. Upon his appointment on January 7, 2011, Mr. Sperling became the first person to serve as NEC Director and principal economic policy advisor for two presidents: first under President Clinton from 1997 to 2001, and now under President Obama. In the Obama Administration, Sperling has played a key role representing the White House in budget negotiations with Congress as well as in designing several of the President’s economic initiatives, including the American Jobs Act, the extension of Transition Adjustment Assistance, the universal dislocated workers program and the small business tax credit.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Ranking Member, House Budget Committee

Congressman Chris Van Hollen was elected to Congress in 2002 in a high-profile election that received national attention. He quickly earned a reputation as an active, engaged and effective member of Congress, rising to become one of the youngest members of the Democratic leadership in 2008. In addition to representing the Eighth District of Maryland and serving in House leadership, Congressman Van Hollen was elected by his colleagues in 2010 to serve as the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. In this position, he is working to advance policies that support job creation and economic growth, reduce the deficit, and put America on a path to long-term fiscal sustainability. The Washington Post named Chris Van Hollen one of "10 members to watch in the 112th Congress." Roll Call has noted that "Van Hollen gets near-universal respect from his colleagues for his intellectual firepower and combination of policy and political chops."

Paul Volcker

Former Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve Board

Economist Paul Volcker is perhaps best known for helping to end the country's stagflation crisis during his time as Chairman of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Carter and Reagan. A proponent of international solutions to economic problems and of stronger government regulation of banks, he chaired President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board from February 2009 until January 2011. Other highlights of his career include senior positions in the Treasury Department, presidency of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Honorary North American Chairman of the Trilateral Commission and Chairman of the Group of Thirty. Volcker also negotiated an agreement between the Jewish community and Swiss banks about the disposition of funds of Holocaust victims placed with Swiss banks. He more recently investigated corruption in the United Nations' Oil-for-Food Program and proposed more effective anti-corruption policies for World Bank programs. He was educated at Princeton, Harvard and the London School of Economics.

Ben White

Wall Street Correspondent, POLITICO

Ben White is Wall Street correspondent for POLITICO and author of the "Morning Money" column covering the nexus of finance and public policy. Prior to joining POLITICO in the fall of 2009, Mr. White served as a Wall Street reporter for The New York Times, where he shared a Society of Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) award for breaking news coverage of the financial crisis. From 2005 to 2007, Mr. White was Wall Street correspondent and U.S. Banking Editor at The Financial Times. Mr. White worked at The Washington Post for nine years before joining the FT. He served as national political researcher and research assistant to columnist David Broder and later as Wall Street correspondent. Mr. White, a 1994 graduate of Kenyon College, has two sons and lives in New York City.

Expert Views: Fiscal Commission

We asked experts with diverse views from across the political spectrum to share their perspectives.

National Debt Clock

See the latest numbers and learn more about the causes of our high and rising debt.