The North Carolina chapter of the national Fix the Debt campaign reacted Wednesday to the last-minute deal to avert the fiscal cliff, but vowed to keep up the pressure on politicians in Washington to come up with a long-term solution.
In a teleconference with reporters, co-chairman Bob Ingram, the retired CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, and Mary-Ann Baldwin from the Raleigh City Council, continued the effort begun in November when the group kicked off its campaign. Fix the Debt is a national effort promoting a way out of the federal debt by building on recommendations from the Simpson-Bowles commission.
“The recent deal to avert the fiscal cliff did prevent massive tax hikes on the middle class, but squandered a tremendous opportunity to resolve our nation’s debt crisis,” Ingram said. “Instead of lurching from crisis to crisis and reaching ‘small ball’ deals at the eleventh hour, Washington needs to proactively deal with our fiscal challenges in a thoughtful and comprehensive way.”
Ingram batted away criticism that the Fix the Debt group is really a front to protect corporate interests.
“There’s no way we can address the huge long-term debt and deficit problem we face if we look at this from a narrow perspective as it affects any one segment,” he said. “As a country, if we’re assigning blame, there’s enough blame to go around on all sides.”
He said the answer is reforming entitlement programs so they can be solvent in the long term, and broadening the tax base by eliminating special exemptions that Republican and Democratic members of Congress have handed out over the years.
Baldwin said the impact of an estimated 6.3 percent projected cut in federal revenue to North Carolina and a loss of 30,000 jobs would be devastating.
“We cannot really even absorb what the impact would be,” Baldwin said, mentioning potential cuts to the military, businesses and research universities.
Baldwin said she heard Erskine Bowles speak about the problem and solutions last year. “I became a convert,” she said. “It’s all about common sense.”