by Bruce Barry
The plan should:
Reform Medicare and Medicaid, improve efficiency in the overall health care system and limit future cost growth;
Strengthen Social Security, so that it is solvent and will be there for future beneficiaries; and
Include comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the deficit.
By pointing to the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission as "an effective framework for such a plan," the CEOs will make some Democrats unhappy, given how far Simpson-Bowles goes in advocating potential cuts to cherished programs. And they will surely make many Republicans unhappy by admitting the obvious: that raising revenue is also essential.
As The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required), this approach is a noticeable departure from other business groups, which tend to sidestep the matter of raising taxes. Although the CEOs aren't explicitly aiming the message in any particular political direction, what we have here is an impressive list of top executives from a variety of companies telling Mitt Romney and the Republican party that their approach to debt and deficit reduction — eschewing any possibility of new revenue — simply isn't credible.
The CEO statement comes from and through the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a self-proclaimed nonpartisan movement to "mobilize key communities — including leaders from business, government, and policy — and people all across America who want to see elected officials step up to solve our nation's fiscal challenges." The Campaign's founders are Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. (Yes, that Simpson and that Bowles.) Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is a member of its steering committee.