Washington must get serious about entitlements letter sent

Author: Mike Williams | Posted: 11/15/2012

A multi-Industry Letter, signed by NAEDA and 231 associations, Chambers, and groups, has been sent to the Members of the United States Congress and the President telling Washington that policymakers must overhaul entitlement programs if they want to get the nation back on the right fiscal track.

In the letter, they contend that demographics alone account for a substantial portion of the nation's debt, as the country's population ages and takes advantage of programs like Social Security and Medicare. As a result, any major fiscal initiative taken on as part of a deal to avert the fiscal cliff or address the deficit must include changes to those programs.

"Demographics are destiny. No one can dispute that our nation’s entitlement programs are unsustainable, and it is mathematically impossible to fix our spending problem without serious entitlement reform," said Bruce Josten, the chamber's chief lobbyist, in a statement. "We urge the President and Congress to work together to address the fiscal cliff, and achieve a Big Deal."

The groups warned that the nation's aging population — 10,0000 Baby Boomers a month are retiring — are a primary reason for the nation's climbing deficit. But while they call policymakers' attention to entitlement programs, but do not make specific recommendations about what should be done with them, instead saying Washington must "fundamentally restructure" them.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) opened post-election talks over the "fiscal cliff" — the combined automatic spending cuts and expiring tax cuts set to take effect at the beginning of 2013 — by saying he could accept increased revenue (but not higher rates) in a deal, so long as it also addressed entitlement programs.

The groups also call on policymakers to promptly avert the cliff. They want to see all lower tax rates extended, as well as various tax provisions (including a patch to the alternative minimum tax). Furthermore, Congress should find spending cuts that could replace the across-the-board sequester cuts set to take effect.

Once the cliff is averted, the groups want to see Washington take on comprehensive tax reform and establish a long term plan to "address America's excessive spending, particularly entitlement spending."

Read a copy of the letter.

Source: The Hill