Sunday, February 25 , 2018, 8:33 am | Fair 46º

 
 
 
 

Tom Donohue: Dealing with Debt

Making sacrifices today will help ensure a brighter future tomorrow

Tackling the nation’s unsustainable debt has been a favorite topic of conversation recently — as it should be. America is in debt to the tune of $13.8 trillion, or $44,000 for every man, woman and child. The current fiscal path leads to only one destination: bankruptcy.

Tom Donohue
Tom Donohue

The plans released by the co-chairs of President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission and the Bipartisan Policy Center have started this needed conversation and laid the stark choices before us. They offer paths to reforming government before a rising tide of red ink overwhelms us. Both proposals include reforms to our tax system and to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. They cut spending and benefits, raise some taxes and cut others.

Although the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t agree with everything in either proposal, we commend both groups for their efforts. The respective reports are a powerful reminder of three things: the tremendous harm we are inflicting on our economy by failing to get the deficit under control; the unconscionable burden we are passing on to future generations; and that practical solutions can be found when public leaders work together on a bipartisan basis and with the long-term interests of the country in mind.

All solutions will require shared sacrifices, and we must be prepared to make them. If we don’t, we can look forward to higher interest rates, slower investment, lower rates of productivity growth, inflation, a stagnating standard of living and the same fate as Greece. It’s not a pretty picture.

That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is encouraging the entire business community not just to calculate the cost of specific deficit-reduction proposals to their individual companies, but to weigh the long-term costs to our country, our economy and future generations if we fail to act. It’s also why we are committed to working in good faith with all parties to find practical solutions.

As we confront the nation’s debt crisis, we also must recognize that without robust economic growth and job creation we will never be able to put a serious dent in the deficit. That’s why the chamber is aggressively pursuing a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda focused on doubling U.S. exports, curtailing burdensome regulations, keeping taxes at reasonable levels and rebuilding the physical platform of the country.

America has faced — and conquered — tough challenges throughout its history. When the chips are down, we come together to find innovative solutions. I am confident we can do so again if we are willing to sacrifice now to ensure a better future tomorrow.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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