Friday, March 20, 2009

Fiscal Responsibility Summit Report

We welcome OMB Director Peter Orszag, who has agreed to lend his expertise for a post discussing the new Fiscal Responsibility Summit Report. Read Director Orszag regularly at his own blog at http://www.omb.gov.

Today, the Administration is releasing the Fiscal Responsibility Summit Report (pdf) that the President announced during the final session of the Summit on February 23.

The Summit was convened so that the President could solicit ideas and discuss solutions to our long-term fiscal imbalance with a broad array of national leaders—from both political parties, from in and out of government, and from Washington, DC and the country as a whole. The President and the Administration are committed to seeking out the best ideas, wherever they may be found, and the Fiscal Responsibility Summit was an important early step in this vital effort.

The Report offers a summary of the Summit’s events, which encapsulates the comments and insights contributed by the full array of Summit participants.

As I have stated elsewhere, our nation is currently being forced to grapple with a pair of trillion-dollar deficits. One is the trillion-dollar deficit between what the economy is producing each year and what it could produce. The other is the trillion-dollar budget deficits that this Administration is inheriting.

The first deficit, the trillion-dollar income gap this year, is an urgent crisis. The longer it persists, the more jobs that are lost, the more income that households lose, and the more businesses that are closed. The Recovery Act that was enacted last month is intended to address that crisis.

The second deficit, the budget deficit, may be somewhat less urgent, but it's no less important. Over the medium to long term, the nation is on an unsustainable fiscal course, and to be responsible, we must begin the process of fiscal reform now.

That's why the President convened the Fiscal Responsibility Summit, because we can no longer let the urgent get in the way of the important. In charting a new fiscal course, we need to be clear in diagnosing the problem. The single most important thing we can do to put this nation back on a sustainable long-term fiscal course is to slow the growth rate of health care costs.

So, as I stated during my remarks at the Summit, let me be very clear: Health care reform is entitlement reform. The path to fiscal responsibility must run directly through health care.

This is part of the reason why the President had said, time and again, that he is committed to reforming the health system this year. And at the Summit, there was consensus on this point across a range of voices. From Senator Alexander and Douglas Holtz-Eakin on one side of the aisle, to Senator Baucus and Senator Dodd and Representative Waxman on the other, all agreed to try to tackle health care this year.

With the President’s leadership, and with the support of a diverse set of voices, we can reform health care this year, start to bend the curve on long-term costs, and get our economy back on a path of long-term fiscal sustainability.
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