Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Applauds Congressional Resolution Calling for Post-COVID Debt Plan

Dec 17, 2020 | Other Spending

For Immediate Release

A bipartisan group of House members – led by Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) and. Scott Peters (D-CA) –have introduced a resolution calling for additional COVID relief legislation to include a framework to help deal with the national debt once we have moved past the immediate health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution notes that while addressing the pandemic remains the nation’s top priority, Congress needs to lay out options to get the debt onto a sustainable trajectory once the economy is back on strong footing. This resolution builds on earlier efforts from over the summer, where 60 House members – 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans – sent a letter to House leadership laying out principles to support the recovery and then pivot to responsible budgeting in the future.

Below is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Lawmakers have done a commendable job responding to the crisis, borrowing trillions of dollars to fight the virus and support workers and businesses harmed by the economic slowdown. And there is a strong argument that more borrowing is needed.

But we must also develop a plan to manage the debt that will phase in once the economy is strong enough.

This group of lawmakers, led by Representatives Arrington and Peters, recognizes the dual challenges of tackling our short-term economic needs and our long-term economic and fiscal challenges.

Deficit-reducing measures should not go into effect until the economy is strong. When the time is right, though, there are many bipartisan policies Congress should consider that can put our deficits and debt back on a sustainable trajectory and leave us with more room to respond to future downturns and crises.

Unfortunately, we were reckless during the recent economic expansion and entered this downturn with near-record levels of debt. Debt to GDP just crossed the 100 percent threshold for the first time since just after World War II and will soon reach all-time highs. In addition, the trust funds for highway programs and Medicare Hospital Insurance will reach insolvency within the next presidential term and Social Security within the next 11 years.

Just as we shouldn’t pull back from borrowing what’s needed to continue dealing with the pandemic, lawmakers also can’t afford to ignore these issues once the pandemic is addressed. This resolution would be a key first step to budgeting responsibly and recognizing when we should borrow and when Congress ought to pay for its spending priorities.

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For more information, please contact John Buhl, director of media relations, at buhl@crfb.org