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Former U.S. Comptroller General lays out economic plan

“We are on a burning platform, and we don’t have a choice but to make tough choices if we want our future to be better than our past,” said former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, as he addressed a group of about 30 people who attended his talk on campus last Wednesday.

Walker visited Carnegie Mellon as part of his “$10 Million a Minute Bus Tour,” which aims to promote fiscal responsibility and present voters with nonpartisan and unbiased solutions to the current financial crisis. The event was hosted by the Heinz College of Public Policy and Information Systems. According to Bryan Tamburro, senior director of strategic initiatives at Heinz College, Walker’s team reached out to policy-oriented schools as a component of its target audience.

The tour, spanning 49 states, is sponsored by the Comeback America Initiative (CAI), which Walker founded and currently heads. According to Walker, the tour is focused on swing states because “the candidates and the media will spend a disproportionate amount of time in the swing states, and they will decide the presidential election.”

“Whichever candidate can convince the American people that they can do the best job of growing the economy, generating jobs, and putting our finances in order should win,” Walker said. “And let me say at the outset that neither candidate has done an adequate job today of putting out a plan that is comprehensive and credible to do this.”

Walker said that the national debt clock, posted at around $16 trillion, “understates our problem” and instead presented the “Burden Barometer,” which was over $70 trillion.

The Burden Barometer was developed by the CAI. It takes into account “total liabilities and unfunded promises” that will soon become deficits or debts if they are not addressed in a timely manner.

“The problem is not where we are, the problem is not where we’ve been, the problem is where we’re headed. We’re headed on a third-world nation path of debt as a percentage of the economy. That cannot be allowed to happen,” Walker said.

Walker said the majority of our money goes to social security, Medicare and Medicaid, and defense. Walker, also the former chief accountability officer and trustee of Medicare and Medicaid, presented a six-pronged plan to fix the economy. Walker’s plan addresses the budget, defense, tax reforms, social security, healthcare, and political reforms.

He proposed several solutions in each category, including increasing the income tax for the wealthy and keeping taxes in place for the lower income population; replacing party primaries with open primaries, resulting in two candidates with the highest number of votes; and addressing unfunded social security and Medicare promises.

In order to successfully avert a financial crisis, Walker said that the plan addressing these areas would need to be “pro-growth, socially equitable, culturally acceptable, mathematically accurate, politically feasible, and receiving full bipartisan support from the opposite party.”

Tamburro said that Walker’s ideas were interesting, but somewhat unrealistic. “I think he definitely did a good job of getting the information out there within the given amount of time. The solutions he presented were good, but actually executing them would be slightly difficult,” Tamburro said.

But Tamburro also said he hoped the talk made people think. “I hope that people are able to break out of their political mindset, because it isn’t a matter of one president, or one term....” Tamburro said. “No matter who wins, these problems are going to exist and they need to be addressed.”