Reining in Our Debt
“Washington needs to have a broad and serious conversation about our nation’s deficits and debt. We need a bipartisan and comprehensive deficit solution that builds on the work done by the President’s Fiscal Commission that materially addresses the problem, ensures we’re all in it together and is bipartisan.”—Michael F. Bennet
It's time to change the way Washington does business. We need a comprehensive and bipartisan plan to get our country’s fiscal house in order. It won't happen overnight, but our long-term economic prosperity depends on attacking the huge debt and deficits that threaten our kids’ future. And while we tackle our deficits, we must extend the debt ceiling to ensure we don’t default, which would cause our deficits to increase even more.
As our economy recovers, we must enact a credible, long-term plan that strengthens our nation’s fiscal condition. That’s why Michael, along with Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), led a bipartisan group of 64 Senators urging the President to include deficit reduction negotiations in budget discussions, specifically including discretionary spending cuts, entitlement changes and tax reform.
These problems won't be fixed quickly or easily. But for the sake of future generations, we must set the course now toward fiscal responsibility. And Washington must rise to the moment.
Michael’s Deficit Reduction Efforts
Senator Bennet believes we need a comprehensive plan to reduce our deficit. He believes any serious deficit reduction plan must substantially reduce the deficit, show we're all in it together and be bipartisan. Listen to Bennet discuss his efforts to help forge a comprehensive solution on debt reduction in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition. He also joined Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and others on a Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget panel to urge that a deficit reduction plan be bipartisan and involve shared responsibility.To learn more about the fiscal mess Washington has created and possible solutions, click “view presentation” under David M. Walker on this website.
In the Senate, Michael pushed for the creation of a bipartisan fiscal commission to make serious recommendations to reduce the deficit. When it did not pass, the President created The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. While Bennet does not agree with all aspects of the Fiscal Commission’s report, he believes that its work represents an important foundation to reduce our national debt. He has therefore pushed for the recommendations to come to the Senate floor for a full debate.
Bennet, along with Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), led a bipartisan group of 64 Senators urging the President to include deficit reduction negotiations in budget discussions, specifically including discretionary spending cuts, entitlement changes and tax reform. To read a Washington Post editorial on this letter, click here.
BENNET’S DEFICIT FORUM
Michael hosted a debt and deficit forum to engage in a serious and substantive conversation on the budget with members of the President’s Fiscal Commission, national budget experts, and local Colorado business and political leaders. Ironically, Michael and Senator Mark Udall had to join the forum remotely via skype from Washington due to a potential government shutdown that hinged on less than 0.5 percent of the federal budget. For a full video of Colorado’s Common Sense Forum on the Nation’s Debt and Deficit Crisis, please click here.
Bennet also participated in a deficit reduction meeting hosted by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget that featured Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Rep. Paul Ryan, among others. In the discussion, Bennet said that for many Americans this debate will test whether government can work at all. For full video of that meeting, please click here.
ENDING THE BAILOUT
Last Congress, Michael successfully passed his Pay It Back amendment in the Senate with broad bipartisan support. This plan, which is now law, helped cut the size of the bank bailout and restricted the program’s ability to re-use funds that banks had already repaid to the government. It also ensures that repaid housing and auto bailout funds go to deficit reduction—not further spending. Additionally, it requires that unused stimulus funds caught hanging in limbo are used to pay down the deficit, not to fund further spending.
Last Congress, Bennet introduced the Deficit Reduction Act to control the federal budget and limit annual deficits. The bill would have placed a yearly cap on the deficit and limited the amount of money Congress could spend on year-to-year spending choices, while protecting Social Security and Veterans benefits. The proposal sought to reduce the federal budget deficit in two significant ways. First, starting in 2011, it would have created caps on Congress’ year-to-year spending for the next ten years. Second, the proposal would have limited the yearly deficit as a percentage of the gross domestic product. By 2012, the deficit could not have exceed 4 percent of the GDP. By 2013, the deficit would have been limited to 3 percent of the GDP.
Additionally, Michael has repeatedly voted for yearly spending caps.
Michael is working with Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) to save taxpayers more than $11 million annually by requiring employers who are filing W-2 forms to submit them electronically. The forms that are submitted in paper have to be entered manually, leading to unnecessary errors and taking up valuable time and resources. Also, the wage reports submitted in paper cost 170 times more to process than electronic copies. This is a commonsense reform we can make to save taxpayer money while increasing efficiency and accuracy.
REDUCING HEALTH CARE COSTS
The Medicare Care Transitions Act, which Bennet successfully worked to include in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, works to emphasize transitional care to lower costly hospital readmission rates, saving taxpayer’s money. The program is based on pioneering work being done in Denver and Grand Junction to deliver higher-quality care to patients at a significantly lower cost. A Denver Post article reported that a Denver care-transitions model pilot program “demonstrate[d] hundreds of millions of dollars in potential Medicare savings.”
As Michael pushes for a comprehensive deficit reduction plan, he believes Congress needs to stop playing political games with the debt ceiling. He is working to ensure we aren’t ever in the position of defaulting on our nation’s financial obligations for the first time in our history. No mayor in Colorado would be willing to risk the credit rating of his or her municipality to make an ideological point, and Washington shouldn’t be any differen
The agreement reached by Congress to avoid a default on the nation’s debt was not perfect; it was not a bill that any one Coloradan would have written. But it was a necessary step to avoid a self-inflicted default that would crater our economy, hurt working families and blow an even bigger hole in our deficit. And while Michael believes it should have been more comprehensive, the bill makes a significant down payment on deficit reduction and creates a bipartisan path forward to get our fiscal house in order.