The co-chairmen of President Obama’s debt and deficit commission spoke before the National Governor’s Association warning Governors that the country’s growing debt could be a bigger problem than the current recession. The commission is co-chaired by former Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Erskine Bowles, White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. As reported by the Washington Post:
Bowles said that unlike the current economic crisis, which was largely unforeseen before it hit in fall 2008, the coming fiscal calamity is staring the country in the face. “This one is as clear as a bell,” he said. “This debt is like a cancer.”
The commission leaders said that, at present, federal revenue is fully consumed by three programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. “The rest of the federal government, including fighting two wars, homeland security, education, art, culture, you name it, veterans — the whole rest of the discretionary budget is being financed by China and other countries,” Simpson said.
“We can’t grow our way out of this,” Bowles said. “We could have decades of double-digit growth and not grow our way out of this enormous debt problem. We can’t tax our way out. . . . The reality is we’ve got to do exactly what you all do every day as governors. We’ve got to cut spending or increase revenues or do some combination of that.”
In a separate interview with Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com, Governor O’Malley said, “The very difficult balance at this point is to protect the fragile recovery and bringing down the long-term deficit.”