UCSB Arts & Lectures is hosting a presentation in Campbell Hall tonight at 8 p.m. entitled America’s Debt and Deficit Crisis: Issues and Solutions, during which the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles will deliberate on the country’s current fiscal crisis and how it can be managed.
During the discussion, which will be moderated by UCSB economics department chair Peter Rupert, Simpson and Bowles will outline the bipartisan commission’s plan for alleviating the nation’s multi-trillion dollar budget deficit by enacting a series of reforms such as streamlining the tax code, modifying healthcare and social security and cutting defense spending. The event is particularly timely in light of the host of impending federal tax hikes and budget cuts — commonly referred to collectively as the “fiscal cliff” — that economic experts believe will plunge the nation further into recession if preventative measures are not taken by the end of the year.
President Obama created the NCFRR in 2010 to formulate fiscal policy solutions for national debt and appointed Simpson, a former Republican Senator from Wyoming, and Bowles, who served as the Clinton administration’s Chief of Staff, to head the 18-member organization.
Associate Director of Arts & Lectures Roman Baratiak said the 90-minute event will begin with an hour of questions presented by Rupert before transitioning into a 30-minute Q&A session with the audience.
The dialogue will offer an opportunity for students to hear firsthand accounts on an issue that has become one of the centerpieces of current political discourse, according to Baratiak.
“The Simpson and Bowles Plan is often referred to as a roadmap to try to address the deficit and other issues but it seems to have just been ignored for the most part,” Baratiak said. “This has been so much in the [political] conversation — if you watch the debates or follow any politics, pundits are always referring back to the Simpson-Bowles plan — so I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to hear back from the two architects of that plan.”
Rupert said Simpson and Bowles will be asked questions about themselves as well as the intricacies of the rejected policies.
“I hope to find out what transpired at the meetings in the committee,” Rupert said. “I’d also like to go through the basic details of the plan, parts that were controversial and why the plan failed. I want to know why they were chosen to lead this committee as well.”
According to Rupert, the ideas put forth by the Simpson Bowles Plan seemed well thought out and effective, especially given current economic conditions.
“I was very pleased with the overall plan with trying to simplify the tax code, get rid of loopholes, [generate] increases in revenues and [cut] expenditures,” Rupert said “I think tax reform is a big issue and I think they framed the argument the right way.”
Fourth-year math major Conor O’Sullivan said UCSB students should attend if they are interested in one of the most important political matters currently at hand.
“It’s great that we can [have] exposure to policymakers that have the potential to begin solving one our nation’s biggest problems: the multi-trillion dollar deficit,” O’Sullivan said. “Anyone who’s interested in financial policy or our nation’s economic future should come to this talk. It’s also your chance to learn about the inner-workings of our federal government firsthand.”
Tickets are $30 for the general public and $15 for UCSB students. For more information, visit www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu or contact Arts & Lectures at (805) 893-3535.