As Washington continues to struggle to avoid the fiscal cliff, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) is working this week with a bipartisan group of legislators to develop a plan to not only avoid the "cliff," but to put the nation on a fiscally sustainable path. The plan would likely involve a two-step approach that avoids the Jan. 1 cliff with a down payment on deficit reduction, while setting up a detailed legislative process for early 2013 that would result in at least a $4 trillion cut in the projected debt over 10 years. This bipartisan agreement would include a balanced "spending reduction-new revenue" approach modeled after the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission recommendations.
"Americans are rightfully scared by the specter of large tax increases and slashes to spending. No matter where I went around the district this past weekend, people were telling me that Washington needs to stop bickering and get to work avoiding the fiscal cliff. As I was walking in a Christmas parade, someone yelled out about solving the fiscal cliff, concluding with one word, "compromise.' That is what we need to do," Lipinski said. "As someone who is committed to finding solutions, I have been working on this issue with a bipartisan group of Representatives along with organizations such as Fix the Debt, The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and the Concord Coalition.
"A short-term fix that simply contributes to more debt is not enough. Without meaningful long-term deficit reduction, the potential for increases in unemployment, inflation, and interest rates is too great. This would be a disaster for the middle class," Lipinski continued. "That is why we cannot do what Washington usually does, wait until the last minute and then pass a bad plan that kicks the can down the road. The time to act is now.
"Fortunately, there is a blueprint available to avoid this and allow all sides to compromise on a grand bargain that cuts out debt through decreased spending, increased revenue, and economic growth. Some ways to do this are already on the table and can be included in legislation as down payment on deficit reduction. Other more complicated items such as tax reform and further curbs to spending growth can be left to Congress to work out early next year in a process that is required in this legislation."
In March, Lipinski helped introduce a budget modeled after the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission recommendations. Only a "Brave 38" supported the budget that included a mix of spending cuts and new revenue to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years. For his stance, Lipinski was given the Paul E. Tsongas Economic Patriot Award this fall by the Concord Coalition, honoring those who have demonstrated a commitment to fiscal responsibility.
"We need to think big in order for the country to start moving in the right direction," Lipinski said. "I believe all the pieces are in place for an agreement that not only avoids the fiscal cliff, but also fixes our budget and protects taxpayers from even more economic harm. All that's missing is the resolve to work together."