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Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 in blog | 0 comments

Why the ‘Moment of Truth’ is Good for Wyoming

Nobody loves the Simpson-Bowles ‘Moment of Truth’ plan.  Nobody.  That’s kind of the point.  Dealing with the debt and deficit of the US Government is going to take more than sound bites; more than winners and losers.  We will collectively lose if we don’t find statesmen and stateswomen who are willing to stand up and make the difficult decisions, sacrifices, and compromises necessary to put our country on a fiscally sound track.

People ask what issue I think is of greatest importance to Wyoming.  My answer is that the federal debt and deficit has the ability to impact our state more than any other single factor I can imagine.

The National Commission for Fiscal Responsibility was appointed by President Obama in 2010; 12 of the 19 members being current US House and Senate members, ½ Republicans, ½ Democrats.  It is the only bi-partisan plan that has passed a committee to date.   There’s something for everyone to dislike about the plan, but it’s the only credible plan we have and, what we don’t have, is time to waste.

The plan includes six parts:

    • Discretionary Spending Cuts and tough caps
    • Comprehensive Tax Reform including lowering rates, broadening the tax base, and simplifying the code
    • Health Care Cost Containment
    • Mandatory Savings from cuts to various subsidies and modernizing retirement systems
    • Social Security Reform
    • Reforming the Budget Process.

It is only 66 pages long and easy to follow.

In February 2012, I sponsored a resolution in the Wyoming Legislature to support the commission’s plan.  It passed with 84 of 90 legislators voting in favor.  We stand to lose a lot of federal funds to Wyoming if the plan passes, but our state was willing to stand up and say that we will make the necessary sacrifices IF it is part of a comprehensive, long-term plan to change the direction of our debt and deficit trajectory.

Later in the spring of 2012, the US House of Representatives voted on the Simpson-Bowles plan.  Only 38 house members voted for it, out of 435 members.  Our Wyoming Representative, Cynthia Lummis, was one of the courageous 38.  While she prefers the Ryan plan, she is willing to compromise on behalf of the future of our country.  Bravo.

When I drafted the resolution, the US debt was 15.365 trillion dollars.  Today, just five months later, it is 15.909 trillion dollars.  More than half a trillion dollars increase in less than half a year.  The debt per US taxpayer stands at $139,500.  More than half of the public portion of debt is held by foreign interests.  The United States gross debt has surpassed the Gross Domestic Profit.

Former US Senator Alan Simpson says that wherever he and Erskine Bowles present the Moment of Truth plan, they get standing ovations.  No matter what the political leanings of the group, most of us easily understand the scope of the problem and the necessary sacrifices that will have to be made.  And we understand that we need to start today.