2018 Fiscal Summit: Summary and Highlights

Download the PDF

The 2018 Fiscal Summit: Debt Matters convened the nation’s leading policy voices to discuss the urgent need for a fiscal reset and to examine how we can refocus on building a fiscally sustainable path for America.

Over the course of just the past year, significant tax and spending measures have made our nation’s fiscal outlook considerably worse. This recent legislation, coupled with existing structural deficits, makes rising debt a pressing risk to our economy.

As interest rates continue to rise and we return to trillion-dollar deficits as early as next year, we will face increased budgetary pressures. Absent a change in course, we will confront reduced public and private investments, less flexibility to deal with future crises, and diminishing economic opportunities for Americans.

The 2018 Fiscal Summit brought together policy leaders and lawmakers from across the ideological spectrum to explore solutions to overcome political challenges and build a solid fiscal foundation that will support a vibrant economy for future generations of Americans.

A clear message emerged from the Summit: now, while the economy is strong, it is time to face our fiscal challenges anew and reset our priorities to create the conditions for sustained economic growth and prosperity.

You can download the summary book in its entirety or browse below to download summaries or watch videos of specific presentations.



TABLE OF CONTENTS


Remembering Pete Peterson

Michael A. Peterson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Peter G. Peterson Foundation

Read the Summary


Welcome and Opening Remarks

Michael A. Peterson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Peter G. Peterson Foundation

Read the Summary


PROBLEM SOLVERS CAUCUS: IDENTIFYING AREAS OF COMMON GROUND

Representative Tom Reed (R-NY), Co-Chair, Problem Solvers Caucus; Member, U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means

Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) , Member, Problem Solvers Caucus; Vice Ranking Member, U.S. House Committee on Appropriations; Member, Joint Select Committee on Budget & Appropriations Process Reform; Vice Chair, New Democrat Coalition

Moderator: Kimberly Adams, Senior Reporter, Marketplace

In an era where politics dictate policy, the Problem Solvers Caucus is a unique, bipartisan group of leaders who seek areas of common ground. Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican, and Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Democrat, will appear together on stage to discuss the political challenges in reaching across the aisle, as well as the opportunity that exists for collaboration and compromise to make progress in critical policy areas. These policymakers will discuss whether a political center exists — or can be formed — to tackle our nation’s fiscal challenges.

Read the Summary


DANGERS OF DEBT: HOW OUR FISCAL OUTLOOK THREATENS THE ECONOMY

Simon Johnson, Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management

Deanna Mulligan, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

Steven Rattner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Willet Advisors

Moderator: Greg Ip, Chief Economics Commentator, The Wall Street Journal

The United States now stands alone as the only advanced economy in the world with a debt-to-GDP ratio that is projected to grow over the next five years. Recent tax and spending legislation has made our debt outlook considerably worse. High and rising debt matters because it diminishes our economic future. As interest rates rise and we return to trillion-dollar deficits as early as next year, we will face increased budgetary pressures, reduced public and private investments, less flexibility to deal with future crises, and fewer economic opportunities for Americans. This panel will bring together voices from the private sector and academia to analyze the threats posed by America’s rapidly rising national debt and discuss fiscal solutions to put us on a better path.

Read the Summary


CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS: DEBT MATTERS TO AMERICA’S ECONOMIC FUTURE, SESSION 1

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Member, Committee on the Judiciary; Member, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; Member, Committee on Foreign Relations

Interviewer: Erica Werner, Congressional Reporter, The Washington Post

In these one-on-one interviews, House and Senate leaders will provide perspectives on our nation’s fiscal outlook and policies to ensure sustained economic growth. Recent legislation — combined with existing structural deficits and a demographic tidal wave in the years ahead — poses considerable policy challenges to lawmakers to put our fiscal house in order and set us on a more sustainable path. Leading lawmakers from both sides of the aisle will assess challenges and opportunities in building a better economic and fiscal future.

Read the Summary


US 2050: WHAT WILL AMERICA LOOK LIKE AT MID CENTURY?

Heather Boushey, Executive Director and Chief Economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth

Robert Doar, Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute

Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Global Migration and Demography, Pew Research Center

David Wessel, Director, Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, Brookings Institution; Contributing Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal

US 2050 is an initiative of the Peterson Foundation and the Ford Foundation that examines the multiple demographic, socioeconomic, and fiscal trends that will shape our nation in the decades ahead. The project engages leading scholars to create a comprehensive view of our economic and fiscal future, illuminating the implications for the social and financial well-being of Americans. Members of US 2050’s Advisory Committee will join together for a discussion, led by David Wessel, on these interconnected trends and the importance of understanding where we’re headed in order to make better policy choices today.

Read the Summary


CARBON TAX: POTENTIAL FOR A NEW FISCAL SOLUTION

Terry Dinan, Senior Advisor, Congressional Budget Office

Aparna Mathur, Resident Scholar in Economic Policy, American Enterprise Institute

Adele Morris, Senior Fellow and Policy Director of Climate and Energy Economics Project, Brookings Institution

Moderator: Jim Tankersley, Tax and Economics Reporter, The New York Times

Would a carbon tax improve our fiscal outlook? This panel brings together leading experts to explore the potential for a well-designed carbon tax to help put our nation on a more sustainable fiscal path. Key questions include how best to structure a carbon tax that is fair to Americans of all income levels as well as across sectors and industries, while boosting economic growth, discouraging the use of carbon-intense energy, and raising new revenue that can be used to address budget shortfalls.

Read the Summary


UP TO US: ENGAGING THE NEXT GENERATION

Up to Us is a leading nationwide program that engages students on campuses across the country in a competition to raise awareness among their peers about the nation’s fiscal future and the economic opportunities the next generation will inherit. Michael Peterson will recognize this year’s winning team from SUNY Old Westbury.

Read the Summary


CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS: DEBT MATTERS TO AMERICA’S ECONOMIC FUTURE, SESSION 2

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

Interviewer: Erica Werner, Congressional Reporter, The Washington Post

Read the Summary


A CONVERSATION WITH FORMER SECRETARY OF ENERGY, DR. ERNEST MONIZ

Ernest J. Moniz, Co-Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Nuclear Threat Initiative; Chief Executive Office, Energy Futures Initiative; Former U.S. Secretary of Energy (2013-2017)

Interviewer: Michael A. Peterson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Peter G. Peterson Foundation

There is a critical connection between America’s fiscal outlook, energy security and role in the world. Dr. Moniz, a nuclear physicist who served as the thirtieth United States Secretary of Energy, brings a unique understanding of these interrelated challenges and trends. The discussion will cover how domestic energy investment supports strength at home and abroad, future funding needs for America’s nuclear arsenal, as well as the impact of rising debt on America’s foreign policy.

Read the Summary


CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS: DEBT MATTERS TO AMERICA’S ECONOMIC FUTURE, SESSION 3

Senator David Perdue (R-GA) Member, U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget, Joint Select Committee on Budget & Appropriations Process Reform

Interviewer: Erica Werner, Congressional Reporter, The Washington Post

Read the Summary


Why Fiscal Issues Matter in the 2018 Election

This election season is a critical opportunity for candidates to talk to voters about solutions to put us on a better path.

FISCAL ISSUES ILLUSTRATED

This series of infographics helps put some of today's most pressing fiscal debates in context.