By Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Ph.D., President and Founder, AmericaSpeaks
Cross-posted from the AmericaSpeaks blog
The report issued today by the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which will be voted upon by the Commission on Friday, challenges our political system and the American people to confront the difficult trade-offs required to address our nation’s long-term deficits. The public is willing to have a hard conversation about taxes and spending and Americans want Congress to pair this conversation with action.
This summer, AmericaSpeaks convened thousands of Americans from across the political spectrum in a national discussion on the federal debt. At 57 meeting sites across the country, we challenged a diverse group of citizens to reduce the deficit to a sustainable level over the next 15 years. From Portland, OR, to Columbia, SC, members of local Tea Parties sat with MoveOn activists to wrestle with the trade offs. And unlike much of what we see in the media today, there was no screaming or sign waving. Regular Americans worked together to solve a common problem.
At the end of the day-long deliberation, nearly two-thirds of our table groups were able to reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion. Surprisingly, many liberals expressed willingness to include significant cuts to spending on health care and discretionary programs as part of a deficit-reduction package. And many conservatives expressed a willingness to include tax increases and cuts to defense spending as part of a deficit-reduction package.
This was possible because people were given the time and information they needed to have substantive conversations to solve a serious problem facing our nation. For our nation’s leaders to have any hope of advancing reforms to our tax and spending policies to address deficits, it is essential for significantly more public education and engagement to take place.
The American people were asked by their elected leaders this summer to come together and offer suggestions that would be taken seriously – and the people did as they were asked. Now it is time for Congress to respond to the public’s priorities and take action. Hopefully the good work and good will can continue, not just on the budget but on the range of issues facing our nation.
To view the results of the national discussion, visit the usabudgetdiscussion.org results page.blog comments powered by Disqus