Business groups: Washington must get serious about entitlements

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The groups warned that the nation's aging population — 10,0000 baby boomers a month are retiring — are a primary reason for the nation's climbing deficit. But while they call policymakers' attention to entitlement programs, they do not make specific recommendations about what should be done with them, instead saying Washington must "fundamentally restructure" them.

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE (R-Ohio) opened post-election talks over the fiscal cliff — the combined automatic spending cuts and expiring tax cuts set to take effect at the beginning of 2013 — by saying he could accept increased revenue (but not higher rates) in a deal, so long as it also addressed entitlement programs.

The groups also call on policymakers to promptly avert the cliff. They want to see all lower tax rates extended, as well as various tax provisions (including a patch to the alternative minimum tax). Furthermore, Congress should find spending cuts that could replace the across-the-board sequester cuts set to take effect.

Once the cliff is averted, the groups want to see Washington take on comprehensive tax reform and establish a long term plan to "address America's excessive spending, particularly entitlement spending."