Thursday, February 18, 2010

From the Policy Desk: What the Presidential Budget Commission Should Do

Today, President Obama signed an executive order establishing the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform made up of six presidential appointees and twelve appointees from Congressional leaders. The commission is tasked with reaching an overwhelming consensus (14 of 18 members must agree) on a plan to close the federal deficit by the middle of the decade, as well as making sure the long-term budget outlook of the United States is sustainable. I’ve blogged about the dangers of budget commissions before, but I thought it might be helpful to suggest three positive things the budget commission could do.

1. Strengthen Social Security for all ages. Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in this country’s history. It provides invaluable support for current retirees, future retirees and children. Social Security will continue to run a surplus until 2023, but faces a relatively modest long-term shortfall. The commission should reach out to Social Security actuaries and put together a package of reforms that strengthens both the program’s adequacy and solvency.

2. Our children, youth, and seniors need critical investments across the lifespan. Our budget should reflect the values of our nation and our commitment to protect the most vulnerable.

3. Provide a budget plan that raises adequate revenues. A new report from the Center for Economic Policy Research points out that our budget woes are largely driven by the great recession and changes in the tax policy last decade.

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