Founding director of the Congressional Budget Office Alice Rivlin is optimistic about Congress taking action before drastic spending cuts known as sequestration take effect next week, because, as she puts it, "I can't believe we're going to be stupid enough not to. I think that's the main reason."
Rivlin told Andrea Mitchell Reports Wednesday that the key to getting the U.S. government's sprawling debt under control is to do so "not immediately, not too fast."
"We shouldn't do this dumb sequester thing, but we should get the parties back to the bargaining table and say how are we going to stabilize our debt so it isn't growing faster than our economy can grow," Rivlin told Andrea Mitchell. "That means entitlement reform. It means tax reform. Everybody knows that. And we've got to get back to it."
Rivlin pointed to concessions made by the president on entitlement reform, including recalibrating the consumer price index, which is tied to Social Security benefits, as well as Medicare adjustments. She noted that President Obama had to offer reform proposals unpopular with his democratic base "to show that he was serious" about compromise.
She endorsed the revised Simpson/Bowles plan unveiled on Tuesday, which advocates for cuts by an additional trillion dollars than what they called for in their last recommendation, over the next decade.
"It's the right idea," Rivlin told Mitchell Wednesday. "They are saying exactly what I'm saying, get back to the bargaining table and work on the things that are driving the debt in the future, which is the aging of the population, the fact that health care costs have been going up rapidly. We need to slow the growth of the health care spending, and we're going to need some more revenue from a reformed tax system. That's what I'm saying, that's what they are saying."