WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Concord Coalition today announced two new co-chairs who have long been known for their work to promote greater fiscal responsibility in Washington: former U.S. Senators Bob Kerrey and Jack Danforth.
Danforth, a Missouri Republican, and Kerrey, a Democrat who represented Nebraska in the Senate, will join current Concord co-chairs and former Representatives Mike Castle (R-Del.) and John Tanner (D-Tenn.) in leading the non-partisan organization.
"Having served on Capitol Hill with Bob Kerrey and Jack Danforth, we know there are no better advocates for attacking our nation's unsustainable fiscal policies," Castle and Tanner said. "They have never taken their eyes off the critical importance of addressing our nation's long-term structural deficits and mounting debt burden."
Robert L. Bixby, Concord's executive director, added: "We are truly honored that these two respected proponents of fiscal and generational responsibility have joined us as our co-chairs at this critical time. They are committed to Concord's public education mission and they know that finding real solutions will require bipartisan cooperation."
Danforth spent 26 years in public office. After serving as Missouri's attorney general, he was first elected to the Senate in 1976 and served three terms there, including work on the Finance Committee.
Danforth subsequently served on Concord's board of directors before being appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2004. An ordained Episcopal priest, he has written extensively about politics, religion and moral values. His latest book, "The Relevance of Religion," was published in October. He is currently a partner in the law firm of Dowd Bennett LLP.
Kerrey, a Vietnam veteran who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, served as Nebraska governor before representing the state for two terms in the U.S. Senate. There his committee assignments included Finance and Appropriations.
Kerrey subsequently was president of the New School, and is currently managing director at Allen & Company in New York and executive chairman of the Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship. He served a previous stint as a Concord co-chair together with the late Warren B. Rudman, the former U.S. senator from New Hampshire who was one of the organization's founding co-chairs.
The names Kerrey and Danforth became synonymous with federal budget reform after the two men led a 1994 bipartisan commission in warning the country it was on an unsustainable fiscal path that jeopardized its future growth and prosperity.
Emphasizing the challenges of an aging population and rising health care costs, the Kerrey-Danforth commission issued a prescient call for sweeping reforms in the entitlement programs and the federal tax system.
A little over a year ago, the two former senators, working with The Concord Coalition, released an update to their commission's report and called on political leaders to quickly address the nation's continuing fiscal challenges.
"I served on the Kerrey-Danforth Commission, and can say that they are persuasive leaders who are not afraid to make the tough choices needed to ensure that future generations enjoy economic prosperity," Castle said.
During the coming year, Concord will use the bipartisan Kerrey-Danforth findings as a framework for analyzing the key fiscal issues confronting 2016 presidential and congressional candidates.
Those findings, approved by 30 of the 32 members of the original commission, included the need to act quickly, prevent unfair burdens from being passed on to future generations, ensure long-term economic growth, protect essential government programs, and put Social Security and Medicare on sustainable paths while taking demographic changes and rising health costs into account.
Kerrey and Danforth said they looked forward to putting a renewed focus on these concerns and goals.
"The bipartisan findings from our commission remain valid as a roadmap for addressing the issues that must be confronted and serve as testimony to how little progress has been made over the past two decades," Danforth said. "We need to get beyond simple platitudes such as fixing the problem by cutting waste, fraud and abuse. Difficult decisions must be made. Our elected officials, including the next president, will not have the luxury of further delay."
Kerrey added: "Long-term projections by the Congressional Budget Office demonstrate that the basic dynamics warned about by the Kerrey-Danforth Commission – an aging population and rising health care costs – remain fundamental challenges. Meanwhile, the passage of time and the accumulation of additional obligations have placed the government in an even more difficult position to address these challenges. So we have no time to lose in pursuing broad budget reform."
The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility. Since 1992, Concord has worked to educate the public about the causes and consequences of the federal deficit and debt, and to develop realistic solutions for sustainable budgets. For more fiscal news and analysis, visit concordcoalition.org and follow us on Twitter: @ConcordC
SOURCE The Concord Coalition