Fiscal Solutions Tour panelists say government must tame the federal deficit

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The high cost of entitlement programs called threat to future generations

KENNESAW, Ga. (March 2, 2011) Future generations will suffer unless the government acts now to control the mounting federal deficit, said financial experts visiting Kennesaw State University on March 1.

The Fiscal Solutions Tour brought four financial experts with national experience to different locations to discuss fiscal responsibility and reform. The tour is presented by the nonpartisan Concord Coalition with support from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

KSU President Daniel S. Papp welcomed about 150 people to the panel discussion. The experts were Joseph Antos, Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy at the American Enterprise Institute; Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition; Alice Rivlin, former vice chair of the Federal Reserve during the Clinton administration and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; and David Walker, founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative and former U.S. comptroller general.

When asked how the deficit would affect people who are now students, Walker predicted they will work longer hours, earn less pay and obtain less government support. “The younger you are and the better off you are financially, the more you’ll be affected,” Walker said.

Rivlin said she is worried young people will not be able to find work in the future. She said a bi-partisan solution must be found to lower the deficit.

“The problem is so big we’ve got to work together,” she said. “The only way it can happen is if we jump into the pool holding hands.”

The recession increased the deficit, but all the panel members agreed the root cause is funding for entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. “Mandatory programs” made up 31 percent of the federal budget in 1970 and 57 percent in 2010.

Antos said great discipline or “a political or technological miracle” was needed to bring the entitlement programs under control. Bixby said that even if the United States recovers from the recession and reduces war costs, “We’re still on an unsustainable track.”

Kennesaw State University is the third largest university in Georgia, offering nearly 70 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 23,400 from 142 countries.