Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Ten Former CEA Chairs Call for "Intense Negotiations" on Long-Term Deficits

Mar 24, 2011 | Budgets & Projections

A bipartisan group of ten former chairs of the President's Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) published an op-ed in Politico today stating that the federal budget deficit "is a severe threat that calls for serious and prompt attention". In what should serve as a wake-up call to some in Washington about the seriousness of our nation's fiscal problems, the former chairs argue that continued inaction would be "irresponsible", urging lawmakers to look beyond the debate over the 2011 budget to the far bigger problem of long-run budget deficits.

The former chairs--including Martin Baily (Clinton), Martin Feldstein (Reagan), R. Glenn Hubbard (George W. Bush), Edward Lazear (George W. Bush), N. Gregory Mankiw (George W. Bush), Christina Romer (Obama), Harvey Rosen (George W. Bush), Charles Schultze (Carter), Laura Tyson (Clinton), and Murray Weidenbaum (Reagan)--call for the final report of the President's Fiscal Commission to serve as the framework for a bipartisan effort to reduce the deficit, citing the bipartisan majority of 11 out of 18 possible votes the final report received and stating:

"As former chairmen and chairwomen of the Council of Economic Advisers, who have served in Republican and Democratic administrations, we urge that the Bowles-Simpson report, “The Moment of Truth,” be the starting point of an active legislative process that involves intense negotiations between both parties."

"There are many issues on which we don’t agree. Yet we find ourselves in remarkable unanimity about the long-run federal budget deficit: It is a severe threat that calls for serious and prompt attention."

Without action soon to address long-term deficits, population aging and health care costs will push deficits to unsustainable heights. They argue that:

"These deficits will take a toll on private investment and economic growth. At some point, bond markets are likely to turn on the United States — leading to a crisis that could dwarf 2008."

With a letter last week from 64 Senators calling on the President to address comprehensive deficit reduction and now an op-ed from some of the most well known and respected economists in the country, momentum and pressure are certainly growing for lawmakers to start talking about our long-term fiscal challenges. We said it last week in a release praising the 64 Senators and we'll say it again, "something big is happening, and those who don't confront our fiscal situation head-on are going to be left behind."

We commend these former CEA chairs for coming together to call attention to the urgency of this issue and hope that Washington will heed their excellent advice. Congress and the Administration can no longer ignore the critical need for a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan that addresses all areas of our budget.

Click here to read the full op-ed.