Raise your hand (digitally) if you agree with any of the following statements:
- We can grow our way out of difficult budget choices
- Eliminating waste in government programs will solve the deficit problem
- The deficit problem can be solved by delivering health care more efficiently
- We just need to raise taxes starting with rolling back some or all of the Bush tax cuts
- Cutting taxes will increase revenues
- Social Security and Medicare are paid for
If you attended our first event of the year on Wednesday, September 14, 2011, you might be reevaluating your position.
The CFO RoundTable opened its 2011 – 2012 CFO education season with “2011: The Year of the Fiscal Wake Up” with Robert Bixby, Executive Director, The Concord Coalition.
Mr. Bixby, who recently compared the budget infighting in Washington as an episode of the Three Stooges, was named Executive Director of the Concord Coalition in 1999, after serving as the organization’s Policy Director, National Field Director, and in other capacities since 1992. He frequently represents Concord’s views on budget and entitlement reform policy at congressional hearings and in the national media. Founded in 1992 by the late former Senator Paul Tsongas (D-Mass.), former Senator Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.) and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson, the Concord Coalition is a nationwide, non-partisan, grassroots organization advocating generationally responsible fiscal policy.
During his session, Mr. Bixby discussed:
- A deep analysis of the Budget Control Act of 2011, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in August 2011, and introduced several complex mechanisms, such as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (otherwise known as the ‘Super Committee,’) and options for a balanced budget amendment
- The data behind the U.S. debt downgrade by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s
- The projected effects of the Budget Control Act on projected deficits through 2021
- A breakdown of where federal budget spending really goes, including foreign aid, social security, national defense, and Medicare/Medicaid
- Which programs will consume federal revenues in the next 15 – 20 years (hint: it’s not foreign aid or unemployment benefits…)
- The alarming disparity between benefits programs and structures (i.e. – what has been promised and what the nation can actually pay for)
According to Mr. Bixby, in terms of the success that the Budget Act of 2011 and the ‘Super Committee’ might bring, for now, it’s a ‘wait and see’ game. Judging on the track record of bi-partisan agreements over the past few years, the outlook is a bit grim; however, it is hoped that all involved will put aside their differences to help put the nation back on track. Another interesting takeaway mentioned was the issue of the ‘interest expense,’ which has recently shown massive growth for our nation’s expenses due to our increase in borrowing within the past few years.
Mr. Bixby also concluded that:
- Our current fiscal policy is unsustainable
- There are no easy solutions, such as cutting waste fraud and abuse, or growing our way out of the problem
- Finding solutions will require bipartisan cooperation and a willingness to discuss all options
- Public engagement and understanding is vital in finding solutions
And finally, this is not about numbers. This is a moral issue. As CFOs, it is our fiduciary responsibility to report unsustainable paths of growth to your board and team. Even further, it is your duty to solve those issues to ensure that your company grows responsibly and sustainably.
To read the full presentation from Robert Bixby, Executive Director, The Concord Coalition, please click here to download the PDF..
*For the record, Mr. Bixby also does a fantastic impression of Curley from The Three Stooges.
For more information on the Concord Coalition, you can:
Share With Us:
Share your thoughts – did you attend our event on Wednesday, September 14th? If so, what were your key takeaways from Mr. Bixby’s presentation? What do you think the solution is to our nation’s budget challenges? Do you see similarities between your own company budget processes and those of the nations? Share with us in the comments today.