U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) today called on Congress to take urgent action in response to the news that the nation's long-term fiscal shortfall has worsened by $5.5 trillion in the past year. The number was released by the Treasury Department in its Financial Report of the United States, an audited accounting statement released annually.
"Once again, the American people can see the true cost of inaction when it comes to our long-term budget shortfall," said Cooper. "We are $62 trillion dollars in debt over the long term, according to the Government Accountability Office, which means more than $203,000 for every person in America. Medicare is $38 in the hole on its own. If this doesn't prove that we need to reform health care, I don't know what will."
Cooper praised President Obama for embracing legislation to create a fiscal commission, a proposal similar to the SAFE Commission Act sponsored by Cooper in the House. Unfortunately, seven Republicans members who had co-sponsored the fiscal commission in the Senate, voted against the measure when it came to a floor vote. President Obama has proposed the creation of an executive commission to address this problem. While Cooper believes a statutory commission would have more teeth, he believes the executive commission is the next best thing.
"This is one of our last chances to steer clear of a fiscal iceberg," said Cooper. "I welcome the White House initiative to create a bipartisan commission on fiscal responsibility that would prevent Congress from ducking these issues any longer. Of course, it would be even better if Congress rose to the challenge on its own but, rather than wait for Congress, let's help this commission complete its work."
Today, the President announced his final four representatives to the commission. They are, David Cote, Ann Fudge, Alice Rivlin, and Andy Stern. These members join former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Senate Whip Alan Simpson as the President's selections for the committee.
The just-released 2009 Financial Report of the United States can be found online at the treasury department website . Cooper's website, http://www.cooper.house.gov , will link to the report as well.