Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
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The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Hails Responsible Economic Leadership

Jun 1, 2020 | Budget Process

For Immediate Release

A bipartisan group of 60 members of Congress – led by Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Jodey Arrington (R-TX) – issued a letter today supporting the development of a framework to help deal with the national debt once we have moved past the immediate health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the health and economic response to the pandemic remains the nation’s top priority, the group recommends considering bipartisan legislative options to get the debt onto a sustainable trajectory once the economy is back on strong footing. 
 
Below is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

“To control a dangerous virus and prevent significant economic damage, Congress made the right call in rapidly approving trillions of dollars in fiscal aid to fight the pandemic and recession. However, we entered this crisis with an already unstable debt situation, and given that we will borrow more to help deal with this emergency, it will make getting our debt under control even more important in the coming years. 
 
“It’s heartening to see dozens of members from both parties recognize the threat of our rising national debt and make clear their intention to tackle this challenge once the time is right. It is a risk that the American people take seriously.
 
“This group of lawmakers put forth a number of bipartisan ideas to help bring more transparency, accountability, and responsibility to the budgeting process and provide congressional leadership with broadly-supported recommendations to break the gridlock. Seeing members of Congress with such a wide array of views working toward consensus on this critical issue is a hugely positive sign.
 
“As the letter states, the top priority remains containing the health impact of COVID-19 and providing additional economic relief as needed. Just because we were reckless in the past and entered this downturn with near-record levels of debt, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t borrow now during an actual emergency.
 
“However, the national debt is set to reach 100 percent of GDP this year and surpass the post-World War II record of 106 percent by 2023. In addition, the trust funds for Social Security Old-Age and Disability Insurance, Medicare Hospital Insurance, and Highway programs—which were already on shaky footing—may now reach insolvency within the decade.
 
“More than anything, a bipartisan framework for budget reforms such as this will start a conversation on how to tackle these challenges. Solutions like bipartisan commissions, annual reports on our nation’s fiscal health, and agreed-upon debt-to-GDP targets would help lay the groundwork to identify medium- and long-term fiscal policies that can put our deficits and debt back on a sustainable trajectory that leaves us with more room to respond to future downturns and crises.”

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For more information, please contact John Buhl, director of media relations, at buhl@crfb.org