by Jim Nintzel
The clock is running out on the opportunity to raise the nation’s debt ceiling—and even GOP economists are warning that allowing the U.S. to default on its debt could have devastating consequences for the economy.
As we reported last week, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl was the last Republican to walk out of debt-reduction talks with Democrats, shortly after issuing a statement complaining that Democrats “are insisting on job-killing tax hikes and new spending.”
If you want to dive into the debt crisis yourself, Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s office is hosting a town hall on the topic this Thursday, June 30.
Among the experts who will be on hand: David Walker, the former U.S. comptroller general who has long been sounding an alarm about the deficit.
Walker tells The Range that Kyl’s decision to walk away from the talks was “disappointing and inappropriate,” but he’s more concerned that the House of Representatives is now out on recess, “which is rather hard to imagine when you have something as serious as this to be addressed.”
Walker argues for deep cuts in spending—“In my view, it’s overwhelmingly a spending problem but not exclusively a spending problem”—but expects that some kind of tax increase is inevitable.
“When I look at how we’re going to put our finances in order over time, I think it’s going to be extremely difficult if not impossible to be able to deal with our structural deficit in way that makes economic sense and is socially equitable, culturally acceptable and politically feasible without having some level of revenues above historical levels,” Walker says.
He’d like to see tax reform that strips out the many deductions on the way to lower overall tax rates, much as a Democratic Congress did while working with President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
He calls GOP arguments that the U.S. can pass the August deadline to raise the debt limit “irresponsible.”
“Nobody knows how the markets will react to that,” Walker says. “And why would we ever want to take the risk? Because the simple fact is, if interest rates go up, that’s only going to compound our problem.”
The deficit-reduction town hall, featuring speakers from the Concord Coalition, is from 6:30 to 8:30 at the UA Student Union. RSVP before Wednesday at 5 p.m. at 520-881-3588.
Here’s more info via Giffords’ office:
The office of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will host a comprehensive examination of the national debt that includes a hands-on budgeting experience so participants can see for themselves what decisions must be made to strengthen our nation’s fiscal future.
The Deficit Reduction Town Hall is cosponsored by the University of Arizona and the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. It takes place Thursday, June 30 and is open to the public without charge.
The two-hour town hall is a presentation of the Concord Coalition, a respected nationwide, non-partisan, grassroots organization advocating responsible fiscal policy.
The event will include an overview of the federal budget, national debt and our nation’s other major fiscal challenges. Leading the discussion will be two of our nation’s most respected voices on budget issues: David Walker and Robert Bixby. They also will discuss options for closing the national budget deficit and restoring fiscal sanity to Washington.
Walker is founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative and former comptroller general of the United States. Bixby is executive director of the Concord Coalition and a member of the bipartisan Domenici-Rivlin Commission, which is examining ways of balancing the federal budget.
The goal of the event is to cut through partisan rhetoric and ideological divides to engage in a realistic dialogue about our nation’s financial future. Participants will engage in an exercise in which they consider federal spending priorities, tax policy and entitlement reform to address the difficult issues facing national policymakers.
The discussion will include an examination of a range of potential solutions that need to be considered, what trade-offs must be made and how future generations can inherit a stronger, more prosperous nation.
Giffords, a former small business owner, is a member of the fiscally responsible Blue Dog Coalition and has been a strong proponent of reducing the federal debt. In December, she called for a “full and robust” congressional debate on the recommendations by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to cut the nation’s debt and deficit.
The Concord Coalition is dedicated to educating the public about the causes and consequences of federal budget deficits, the long-term challenges facing America's unsustainable entitlement programs and how to build a sound economy for future generations.
While the event is free and open to the public, those attending are asked to RSVP by emailing RSVPGiffords@mail.house.gov or calling 520-881-3588 by 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 29.
Media is welcome to attend the event.
WHAT: U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ office hosts a Deficit Reduction Town Hall
WHEN: 6:30-8:30 p.m., Thursday, June 30, 2011
WHERE: University of Arizona Student Union Memorial Center, North Ballroom, 1303 E. University Blvd. (Pay parking available in Second Street Garage, 1340 E. Second St.