SCEPA was an early and active voice addressing the mandate of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Our work began over a year ago, when Bernard L. Schwartz presciently identified the paramount issues of our 2011 Congress. Specifically, he pointed to the political importance of deficit reduction and the centrality of tax expenditures in the federal budget.
Since then, SCEPA organized original research that combined our unique expertise in economic reform with the issues dominating the Commission debate. We focused on two main issues: the effectiveness of tax expenditures in the federal budget and the need for federal policy changes to ensure secure retirement savings options for all Americans. Through Congressional briefings, media reports, original research and working with coalitions, we produced innovative reform proposals and brought together experts from across the political spectrum for discussion on Capitol Hill.
The ideas fostered in SCEPA's work took root among the Fiscal Commission. SCEPA recommendations appeared in multiple members' plans, as well as the Draft Commission Report that received eleven out of eighteen supporting votes.
The report embraced reform of federal tax expenditures as a central principle of the revenue-side adjustments necessary for an effective and sustainable budget. Moreover, the Commission explicitly recognized retirement security as a broad national interest. In section 5.10 of the draft report "The Moment of Truth," the Commission called for a renewed dialogue on retirement savings programs to supplement social security, stressing the necessary principles for a policy to work for both citizens and the economy.
Although the Fiscal Commission dissolved on December 3rd, SCEPA will continue the work of identifying the fiscal possibilities and implications of reform. The mandate for tax and retirement policy improvements that emerged from the Commission is one that SCEPA helped to shape and now advance through critical inquiry, expert research, and strategic debate.