The newly sworn-in 113th Congress and the second-term President Barack Obama face mounting pressure to do something meaningful and lasting about the nation's soaring debt. To succeed, members of Congress may have to buck their party orthodoxies and cast politically tough votes that could cost them their seats in their next elections.
The Campaign to Fix the Debt (known as "Fix the Debt") was created to provide political cover for those who see the dire circumstances of inaction and want to work together to find a bipartisan solution to this pressing problem.
Founded by former Wyoming Republican Sen. Al Simpson and Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of the 2010 Presidential National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Fix the Debt was launched in 2012 along with several bipartisan public officials, such as former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and former Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.). Backed by more than 100 CEOs of some leading American companies, the group has raised millions to spread its message to voters and lawmakers to get a debt deal done.
By joining this coalition, the business leaders are calling for a "grand bargain" and are willing to put everything on the table, including taxes. Their goal is to put in place a plan to reduce the debt while protecting economic recovery, providing stability for investors and eliminating threats of future fiscal cliffs, debt-ceiling showdowns and credit-rating downgrades. Moreover, the group hopes to increase the public's confidence in the ability of its leaders to address the nation's important challenges.
Fix the Debt has put forth the Simpson-Bowles Commission plan as a framework for deficit reduction, but is under no illusions that Congress will take it up and pass it as is. President Obama never embraced the proposal, which received mixed reviews on Capitol Hill when it was issued in December 2010. By recommending the plan, the group is saying that the U.S. can neither cut enough spending nor tax enough, and is calling on Congress and the president to reform all areas of the budget, including entitlement programs (such as Medicare and Social Security) along with the tax code--and complete the job by July 4.
Fix the Debt walks a fine line when it comes to the issue of tax increases. The group's core principles refer to lower, not higher tax rates, giving the impression that it does not support tax increases, a position that would contradict the Simpson-Bowles...