Taking inspiration from George Washington’s Farewell Address, Paul Schott Stevens, President and CEO of Investment Company Institute addressed the issue of our troubling economic situation and our national security. Saving the Economy with Candor, Compromise and Equity for All.
He laid out the cost of our staggering indebtedness, fourth only to Japan, Iceland and Greece brought about by a 30 year practice in Washington of using the national debt to avoid saying no to anyone. Whoever takes office in January of 2013 will be presiding over a country whose debt is 103 percent of GDP. With interest payments on the debt soon to exceed the Defense Department’s budget, Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the debt is the biggest risk to our economy and national security.
How do we move from “kicking the can down the road” or ignoring our plight to address our debt and put the U.S. back on a sound financial footing for prosperity and growth?
Stevens gave us three principles: candor, compromise and an equitable solution in the broadest sense.
Candor is first, says Stevens because “A great nation is honest with itself about its priorities.” That is, take the debt seriously and deal with it. The most promising solutions to our fiscal problems are multi-faceted and require compromise, something we must insist that our representatives do. Finally, solutions must be equitable in the broadest sense, meaning that budget cuts alone or tax increases alone can solve the problem, but a combination of the two.