The leader of a group focuses on reducing the national debt and the federal government’s top auditor visited Iowa Thursday on what’s called the "Fiscal Wake-up Tour." Concord Coalition executive director Robert Bixby says they’re trying to raise awareness of a looming increase in the deficit. Bixby says it’s a long-term problem, as the deficit is a small problem that will get "really, really, bit once babyboomers retire."
The retirement of millions of babyboomers will increase the costs to the government for their retirement benefits. Bixby says they’re trying to raise awareness now to make it an issue for the 2008 presidential campaign. Bixby says it has to be talked about as a moral issue, not a numbers issue, as we’re borrowing now and creating a debt that our children will have to pay off in the future.
Comptroller General David Walker is teaming with Bixby on the tour, and says there are steps the government can take right now to make a change. Walker says, "We need to address our four deficits, which are: the budget deficit, the balance of payments deficit, the savings deficit, and the leadership deficit. And Iowa can help with the leadership deficit." From the fiscal standpoint, Walker says we need tough budget controls, to reform Social Security to save the system, tax reform and healthcare reform.
Walker says Iowa has a key role in the leadership issue with it’s leadoff position in the presidential race.
Walker says if the next president doesn’t make "fiscal responsibility and intergenerational equity" one of the top three priorities, we’re in trouble. He says there are several major risk factors that come together in the first term of the next presidency, "and we can’t afford to wait, we need to start making tough choices."
Former Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle is in the confirmation process to become the next director of the Office of Management and Budget. Walker says Nussle can have an impact on the problem. Walker says he met with Nussle in the last week and talked with him about things they can do for fiscal responsibility, and Walker says he hopes they can get some of the things done. For now, Walker says Iowa voters have to get involved.
"What has to happen for the Iowans who have a special responsibility and a special opportunity, is to ask the tough questions. And to insist on specific answers, don’t let people dance," Walker says, "this is too important to let that happen." For more information on the tour and deficit issues, visit the Concord Coalition website or the Government Accounting office website .