Attack the debt

   
As lawmakers continue to wrestle with ways to overcome the challenges posed by the country’s mountain of debt, Americans are forced to eagerly await a resolution that restores certainty to the nation’s economy. It is imperative that Washington gets an immediate handle on this problem so the country is able to move forward, free from the bondage of our massive debt burden.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the national debt is threatening the long-term sustainability of the American economy. The country has seen a steady increase in its debt levels over the past several years. As a percentage of GDP, our national debt is currently at 73 percent – the highest it has been in over 60 years. These are ominous trends and further evidence that we must begin taking measures to stabilize and reduce the debt relative to the economy.  

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Our growing debt has a profound effect on all Americans, regardless of financial standing. Rising debt levels have the ability to raise inflation and interest rates, making it harder to purchase ordinary items like groceries and gasoline or to access capital needed to grow a business or buy a home. And excessive debt can lead to a spike in unemployment – something our still-fragile economy does not need. Lawmakers must recognize these risks and eliminate them by working together to reach compromises that contain our debt problem and grow our economy.

So far, our elected leaders have failed to reach the bipartisan consensus necessary for a large scale debt reduction agreement. Instead, what we’ve seen are a series of stop-gap measures and manufactured crises such as the “fiscal cliff” and budget “sequester” that do nothing to improve the country’s economic outlook. Any viable debt deal must focus on both generating revenue and cutting spending. This can be achieved by restructuring our outdated tax code to make it more globally competitive and reforming our costly entitlement programs so that they are solvent for future generations.

But in order to get to a point where lawmakers are able to enact these desperately needed reforms they must first meet in the middle and make the tough choices they have put off for far too long. Both parties have to be willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of the entire nation. Everything should remain on the table and there cannot be any “sacred cows” in this process. President Obama should use his bully pulpit to encourage cooperation between lawmakers and to educate the public on why these changes are so critical. This may not be an easy undertaking but I am confident we can achieve success through a collective effort.

Realizing that politicians alone will not be able to overcome this challenge is what led me to join the Campaign to Fix the Debt. The Campaign is committed to encouraging substantive debate and meaningful action geared towards a comprehensive debt deal. Its diverse membership includes leaders from business and policy, but it is the over 350,000 people that have signed the Campaign’s Citizen’s Petition that have the ability to drive the changes needed to solve this problem. I would encourage you to visit FixTheDebt.org to learn more about you can help restore order to the nation’s fiscal house.   
 
Americans are the most innovative people in the world, capable of solving any problem laid before them. Because of this, I am optimistic about our ability to rise above this obstacle and become a stronger nation in the process. Let’s get to work fixing the debt.

Saunders is CEO of the Leadership Council at FixtheDebt.org and founder and CEO of Payoff.com.

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