Coloradans on the cliff

A cross-section from state seeks sensible solution to country’s financial ills

We cannot be more pleased to see the business sector join in the push to have Congress and the White House reach consensus on a solution to the fiscal issues that are gnawing away at the country’s core. A return to higher personal income tax rates, a trillion dollars in defense and nondefense spending cuts, and the elimination of a reduction in the Medicare payroll tax will bring a halt to the country’s agonizingly slow climb out of the 2008-09 recession brought on by the mortgage bubble.

Add to that a fight in a couple of months about raising the debt limit and significant widespread economic damage could occur. It could send the country back into a recession.

In Colorado, an unusual coalition of business and nonprofit leaders have stepped up to signal to the state’s congressional delegation just how serious they think the situation is. The ad hoc Colorado Fiscal Leadership Council’s approximately 50 members have communicated with the delegation its concern about the size of the nation’s accumulated debt and the ongoing annual deficits, and that it is unacceptable to fail to create a fiscal plan that will reduce both.

The council praises the Simpson-Bowles recommendations, and it urges that any “plan be conducive to long-term economic growth ... and include credible enforcement mechanisms.” It also should include all aspects of the federal budget, be bipartisan, and be implemented gradually so as not to jeopardize the fragile recover under way.

“Leadership and courage” is what the council urges the Colorado delegation to exhibit to other states’ delegations, to the American people and “to democracies around the globe.”

What makes this group so unusual is its mix of representation from large and medium-sized corporations and from the not-for-profit sector. Among the signers are the leaders of Vectra Bank, the Anschutz Corporation, Vail Resorts and Frontier Airlines, and of Colorado College, the University of Denver, Craig Hospital, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Colorado bankers, lawyers, land developers, builders, investment advisers, energy company leaders and the health and higher-education fields are represented in the signatories.

Washington is hearing from partisan members of both parties and from their constituents about to how to shape a favorable outcome for one side or the other. That is not what the Colorado Fiscal Leadership Council is all about.

The council, which cuts across both political parties and the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, is leaving the components up to the negotiators. Its parameters are broad, wanting the fiscal solutions to reduce debt, include pro-growth tax reform and be inclusive. Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid must be put on stronger footings as well, it says.

The fiscal challenges facing the country cannot be overstated, and something must be done about them. This message from this selection of Colorado’s corporate and non-profit leaders ought to make that clear to Colorado’s delegation.

Let’s expect that in the coming days we see a resolution to the impasse that will put the country on the path to more balanced budgets with a more progressive tax code, and to stronger financial underpinnings.