It is a fitting time for Erskine Bowles to be in Philadelphia. He and his fellow co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform are in the news again, having issued on Tuesday a new plan to reduce the federal deficit.
Bowles will give a lecture at the Kimmel Center on Monday night as part of the Philadelphia Speakers Series. Got questions for him? Let us know, and we’ll pass them on for a Q&A session after the speech.
Back in 2010, Democrat Bowles was paired with Republican Alan Simpson to build a plan for the long-term fiscal survival of the U.S. government. Their plan, touted as a bipartisan “grand bargain” at the time, would have reduced the federal deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years.
It did not get enough votes within the commission to pass on to Congress, but since that time, the plan has gotten significant attention, through the 2011 debt ceiling debate to the 2012 presidential race, and every self-imposed Congressional fiscal calamity in between.
Now as Washington stares down the barrel of a $1.2 trillion sequester (which few believe will be allowed to take place), Bowles and Simpson emerged with a Plan B. Rather than the $4 trillion House Republicans want, or $1.5 trillion the president wants, their goal is a middle-of-the-road $2.4 trillion over the next decade — to be achieved by the kind of spending cuts and revenue increases that will set alarms ringing on both sides of the aisle.
“The problem is real, the solutions are painful, and there is no easy way out,” the pair said in their website for the Moment of Truth Project. “What we are calling for is by no means perfect, but it could serve as a mark for real bipartisan negotiations on a plan to reduce the deficit and grow the economy.”
Expect to hear more of Bowles’ thoughts on that on Monday night — four days before the sequester is set to kick in.