February 15th, 2010
09:02 AM ET
13 years ago

Curbing debt: Shoulda, coulda. Now gotta.

New York (CNNMoney.com) - In the past five years, the administrations of both parties have tried to reform three big-ticket items: the tax code, health care and Social Security.

The reform efforts would have helped put the federal budget on a more sustainable course.

But all have been tabled in one form or another because of partisan resistance to key ideas.

Now policymakers' work is infinitely harder as they wake up to the realization that they must deal soon with the country's long-term fiscal problems.

At stake ultimately is the United States' status as a first-class economy.

"It's going to take bold strokes to deal with this challenge. It's going to take big ideas, and it's going to take political courage because it's every hot-button issue that's out there. It is Social Security. It is Medicare. It is revenue. All of them," said Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., at a hearing last week on fiscal sustainability.

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Filed under: national debt
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    I predict failure on all three big ticket issues. Why should we expect anything different when little has changed in ten years? Nothing will work like a widespread default on already overrated Treasury securities. No votes required.

    February 15, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. linda

    And the 12 million + illegal aliens in the US are adding to our downfall. US taxpayers – legal citizens – are paying for their education,
    health care, welfare $$, food stamps, housing, etc., etc.

    Get these people out of the US and things will improve greatly.

    February 15, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    None of this can be possible without Congress passing the "Audit the Fed" Bill. How can you reduce a debt when you have no idea how much debt you have? The Audit the Fed bill has been backburner too long now is the time to have a fair and open audit of this private bank's debt that the taxpayer is being held accountable for.

    February 15, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but.....

    Hmmm.. get ready for all social spending to get cut. Sorry, baby boomers, no social security or medicare for you, we've got the world's largest military budget to pay for. Because the world is chock full of, you know... terrorists! Have a nice day!

    February 15, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Conservative Voice

    Blah, blah blah....
    1> Taxes: a flat tax is best.
    2> Healthcare: go by the US Constitution...no federal funded health care. This is under the states control
    3>Social Security: get rid of the fat and fraud. Raise the retirement age. What you put in is what you should get back. No work=no $$$$.

    February 15, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Sorry, but expecting these people, republican and democrat, to have the courage to cut the wasteful spending is too much. Each senator and congressperson brings money back to their states for no other reason than to get reelected, whether the money is for necessary or unnecessary projects. That isn't going to stop.

    February 15, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  7. George

    "At stake ultimately is the United States' status as a first-class economy." Dream on. With 66% overweight, rising drop-out rates in high school and handgun violence the norm, this is just a dream. And not the Martin Luther King, Jr. variety either.

    February 15, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. Seth

    At a time when we need strength from a great leader, instead we have
    President Obama and his cronies, who are still dancing to the global warming ballet music.

    President Obama doesn't get that when he says GREEN, the majority of logical Amercians see RED.

    We will have freedom from these bozos when we elect a LEADER for our Great Country. America deserves a man of character and who knows his own idenentity. President Obama is still looking for himself in all the wrong places.

    February 15, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Chris

    Does anyone remember Bush's idea to reform Social Security. It was to privatize and put it in the hands of such firms like Lehman Bros., Goldman Sachs, etc. Using typical Right Wing thinking, he reasoned that large, private corporations were better at handling the public's retirement funds than the government was. If Bush had had his way, the resulting economic crisis would have been far worse, with Social Security being pretty much wiped out.

    February 15, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. The Right

    Let me guess Dems,you are going to blame this on Bush,how did I ever guess.Dems-the party of NO.NO jobs NO improvement NO accountability NO hope NO truth NO change,just a party of NO.

    February 15, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Steve-Illinois

    Ever notice how SSI is always brought up? Read an earlier article where they should move all the retirement ages up so it's not such a burden on the system. Has anyone EVER read about a plan to cut into these ridiculous government pensions? Workers retiring at under 60 and recieving pensions that are more than the average American makes while working! No one's even attempting to go after these unsustainable pension plans!

    February 15, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. The GOP

    Well well,I just believe ALL this time was during a democratic congress,guess what morons,you are busted.The blame it on Bush is now the we did that!Hey you voted for this not Bush.I can not wait till November and good riddance .Wish we had the stimulus money back now that you wasted to increase the unemployment.

    February 15, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. Andy

    5 years,who was in congress?? Yes I believe it was the dems,and you mean they did something wrong??Now who will they blame this on.More of their wasteful spending with no results.

    February 15, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Before the budget makers look at entitlement programs for the less fortunate, I hope they look at the handouts to the groups that don't need them: rich gentleman "farmers", big business, etc. Congress and the White House throws lots of money at those groups for their political support, and the citizens get no return for the dollar.

    February 15, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Jake

    Why is Democrat and government in shambles the same thing.Correct me if I am wrong but I thought the Democrats were in control during this time.Did they not vote on this?Did they not see a problem? What did they do during this time period?

    February 15, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. rob

    The best way to increase revenue to the US treasury is through something not even mentioned in this piece....Economic Growth. Lower taxes on Corporations and small businesses to createt more investment and job growth while working on lowering entitlement spending in a gradual way that won't include huge tax increases on the middle class.

    Everytime we reduce taxes on the Business class, revenues increase. It worked for JFK, Regan, Clinton ( Cap Gains taxes reduced to 15% from 20%) and yes even under the hated GWB.

    February 15, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Stallion

    The solution will come as the people of this country stand up and refuse to tolerate the kind of spending programs that Washington has been allowed to get away with. Look out in November.....that will be the start of it.

    February 15, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |