America's Budget Crisis Panel




David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the U.S.

Isabel V. Sawhill, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, Brookings Institution

Alison Fraser, Director, Institute for Economic Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation

Robert L. Bixby, Executive Director, the Concord Coalition

Tom Campbell, Dean, Haas School of Business, U.C. Berkeley – Moderator

Members of the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour, a group of experts who study the nation’s financial situation, will gather to explain why they believe that America is headed for an economic crisis. They will argue that the dimensions of the problem are clear: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid already constitute 40% of the Federal budget; American’s personal saving rate has declined to negative one percent; and the government’s privately held debt owned by foreign investors has risen from 37 to 54 percent since 2001. Though the panelists have wide-ranging perspectives, and do not agree on what levels of spending, taxes, and debt are acceptable as solutions, they are united in their opinion that our current fiscal policy is unsustainable. They will caution us to consider real solutions to the problem – solutions that acknowledge the trade-offs that must be made – because, they argue, we can’t simply grow our way out of the problem.

The Fiscal Wake-Up Tour is a public engagement initiative addressing the problems of the nation’s fiscal policy. Their purpose is to cut through partisan rhetoric and stimulate a more realistic public dialogue on how to shape our nation’s future. The Tour is a joint effort by The Concord Coalition, the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation, and is advised by U. S. Comptroller General David Walker.

Before beginning his fifteen-year term as U.S. Comptroller in 1998, Walker worked for Arthur Anderson LLP. He also previously served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Pension and Welfare Benefit Programs. Prior to joining Brookings, Sawhill served as an Associate Director at the Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1995. There she managed the human resource programs of the federal government, accounting for one third of the federal budget. A frequent commentator on CNN, PBS, BBC, Fraser previously worked at……After Hurricane Katrina, she took the lead in preparing Heritage’s special reports on the disaster, which were the only such reports for the first few weeks following the crisis. Bixby, who has worked for the Concord Coalition since 1992, was appointed as Executive Director in 1999. Before that, Bixby served as the Chief Staff Attorney of the Court of Appeals of Virginia

This program was recorded live on September 14, 2007