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The Elephant in the Room for Centrist Fiscal Hawks

Harry Stein discusses what fiscal hawks need to do in order to reduce the deficit.

At the 2015 Fiscal Summit, convened recently by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Washington’s centrist fiscal hawks repeated their warnings about the national debt and their call for bipartisan compromise. The good news is deficits are low and the short-term budget outlook is stable, so there is no looming debt crisis. But long-term fiscal challenges remain, and the leading organizations of centrist fiscal hawks — the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the Campaign to Fix the Debt and the Concord Coalition — all stress that a realistic deficit reduction plan must include both spending cuts and tax increases.

What is missing from the conversation among fiscal hawks, at the Fiscal Summit and elsewhere, is a frank acknowledgement that a large bloc in Congress has pledged to oppose any tax increase, even in the context of a bipartisan compromise that also includes spending cuts. By failing to confront this anti-tax pledge, the fiscal hawks’ calls for bipartisan compromise to achieve deficit reduction largely amount to calls for surrender by those who believe that new revenues must be included to sustain Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs to strengthen and grow the middle class.

The above excerpt was originally published in Roll Call. Click here to view the full article.

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Harry Stein

Director, Fiscal Policy