June 15, 2016

Manchin, Kirk, Perdue Introduce Bill to Shrink the Deficit

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FiRE Act), which would create a bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility every four years to identify policies to shrink the deficit of the federal government and achieve long-term fiscal sustainability.

"With our national debt exceeding $19 trillion, we need to start making smart reforms to reduce the deficit and achieve fiscal sustainability over the long term,” Senator Manchin said. “I am proud to introduce this legislation with my Republican colleagues because we must overcome the political gridlock that has gotten in the way of previous legislation to improve the fiscal outlook of our country. This common sense legislation will bring House and Senate lawmakers together to constructively find solutions to reduce our deficit and focus on fiscal responsibility.”

“Bipartisan efforts are needed to tackle our staggering national debt that is growing by the minute,” said Senator Kirk. “Modeled after the Simpson-Bowles Commission, this commission will bring both sides to the table in order to make the tough decisions on how to responsibly reduce our debt and improve the economy. Partisan politics have typically halted meaningful solutions to our fiscal problems but this commission will force necessary action across party lines.” ‎

“We are $19 trillion in debt today and on track to near $30 trillion in the next decade,” said Senator Perdue, a member of the Budget Committee. “We are already well past the tipping point in this debt crisis and if we don’t do anything, it’s only going to get much worse. It’s time for Washington to be honest with the American people and provide folks with a clear picture of our country’s financial problems. Frankly, paying down our debt shout not be a partisan issue, and I’m glad we are working together today to make some constructive, common-sense changes aimed at finally solving our debt crisis.”

“We face some very tough choices to get our unsustainable debt under control, and it’s increasingly clear that policymakers cannot or will not address them through the regular budget process, even as the deficit is projected to begin growing again,” Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said. “A bipartisan commission could provide the leadership and impetus to force policymakers into action on this critical issue.”

“The long-term fiscal health of our country deserves more than fleeting attention from Congress; it is an ongoing priority that can only be fixed with tough leadership that is grounded in economic reality and eschews partisan ideology,” Jim Kessler, Third Way Senior Vice President for Policy said. “No lawmaker has demonstrated more leadership on this idea than has Senator Joe Manchin, who continues to advance pragmatic legislation to bring both sides to the fiscal table.”

The national debt – now over $19 trillion – is at an all-time high, surpassing 100 percent of our GDP. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the overall deficit is expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2026. After 2020, growth in federal spending will start to outpace growth in the economy. However, previous efforts to reform our tax code, reduce spending and other attempts to improve the fiscal outlook of the United States have largely been stagnated by political gridlock. This bill mandates that Republicans and Democrats come together to discuss solutions to our debt crisis and take steps toward ensuring the fiscal sustainability of the federal government.

This bill creates a National Commission comprised of 18 members with significant experience in economics, law, and fiscal policy including:

  • Six members will be appointed by the President (no more than four from each party) and three members will be appointed by each Majority and Minority leader of each House of Congress.
  • With assistance from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the CBO, the members will meet over the course of a year to evaluate and ultimately propose recommendations for balancing the budget within 10 years as well as improving the long-term fiscal outlook, which will be posted online, along with attendance records of Commission members.
  • The administration will consider the findings and, after consulting with relevant committees, will issue a joint resolution in legislative text for Congressional consideration of the Commission findings.