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Editorial: National debt must be faced now, before it is too late

Last Modified: Monday, November 12, 2012 11:53 AM

While President Obama and both parties in Congress haggle over how to avoid the upcoming fiscal cliff, other voices are demanding a long-term solution to this nation’s deep depth, now at more than $17 billion and climbing by the hour.

One such group, Fix the Debt, is an outgrowth of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility that was chaired by former U.S. Senators Alan Simpson, a Republican, and Erskine Bowles, a Democrat.

The 18-member commission produced a report that recommended a combination of increased tax revenues and cuts in discretionary spending that would lead to $4 trillion in savings over 10 years.

Only 11 members of the commission eventually signed their approval, and it was DOA once it landed on President Obama’s desk.

Undeterred, Simpson and Bowles spearheaded the formation of Fix the Debt, which continues to advocate for a reduction of the debt through both additional tax revenue and spending cuts.

The organization’s web site notes that the current debt is 70 percent of the economy and is on track to exceed 100 percent of the economy in the next decade.

The organization said that rising debt will slow economic growth, saddle future generations with it, reduce budget flexibility and the ability of the United States to respond to a future crisis and ultimately lead to economic crisis.

Debt reduction, according to Fix the Debt, would reverse the negative economic and future consequences of rising debt and restore public faith in Washington’s ability to fix problems.

“We need our leaders to make these hard choices, these politically difficult choices,’’ said Bowles. ‘‘I’m confident that if this campaign succeeds in getting politicians to put partisanship aside and pull together, rather than pull apart, then the future of this country is very, very bright. But I’m equally sure that if we continue to kick the can down the road, duck the tough choices, shirk our responsibilities, then America is well on its way to becoming a second rate power.”

Said Simpson: ‘‘The voters are way ahead of their elected representatives in realizing we need to honestly ‘do something’ about this problem and that fixing it will require that everyone accept some sacrifices in the things they may like for the good of the country they love. The American public is thirsting for the truth and bold leadership from their elected representatives.’’

In short, America is going broke, and if our political leaders don’t fix it, then Washington is irrevocably broken and both major political parties are equally to blame.

•••

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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