Will The Center Lend A Voice In Fiscal Debate?

National Fiscal Policy Calling Out For Voices From The Center
In Washington there exists a chasm between the rhetoric on fiscal policy coming from the Right and from the Left. If your ears are to be believed, the nation faces two choices – either raise taxes and do not come within spitting distance of Medicare, Medicaid or other entitlement programs; or implement sharp cuts to all government spending and do not come within spitting distances of a bill that might raise taxes.

The choices being offered to gain control of the growing national debt, contends Wall Street analyst Steve Rattner, are “neither less numerous nor less dangerous.”

Rattner decries the absence of leadership and the failure to fill that chasm with ideas on managing our debt that will work in practice. It is time, he argues, for politicians from the center to step up with ideas that will restore fiscal sanity to the process.

“The fact is, we will not balance the budget in this country anytime soon — the size of our unfunded liabilities and the costs of our aging society would make doing so irresponsible. . . . But at the moment, our fiscal policy can’t be described as anything resembling responsible. For us to make progress, the time has come for the centrists to reclaim the stage from the extremists.”

New Group Launched To Foster Government Reform
John C. Fortier, Ph.D., director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, outlined the goals of a new commission which aims to identify ways to overcome the political polarization and make government work better.

The Commission on Political Reform will spend the next year gathering information from the public to “identify concrete but achievable reforms to our congressional gridlock and electoral dysfunction while promoting public service.” They hope to produce a list of recommendations in 2014.

WHO Sets New Goals For Polio Eradication
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a new goal – eradication of polio within the next five years. In order to reach this goal WHO has laid out an aggressive plan that will include an urgent emphasis on improving routine immunizations; contingency plans in the event of a vaccine shortage; and the development of a shot version of the anti-polio vaccine to replace the current oral variant. In addition, the plan will highlight efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, three remaining countries where polio is endemic.

Incredible Progress Toward Eradication
There has been considerable progress since the establishment in 1988 of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a public-private coalition to eradicate polio. For example, Type 2 polio was wiped out in 1999, and there has not been a single case of wild poliovirus type 3 in over four months.

However, Judith Rowland notes in The Diplomatic Courier, this is no reason for the international community to rest on its laurels.

“Now is the time to hold our elected leaders to account. It is time for the United States government to increase support for the GPEI by committing an additional $50 million annually to ensure that no more children suffer from polio,” she writes.



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