Missouri politicians pressure Congress to "Fix the Debt"

Nov 19, 2012

A new bipartisan group of Missouri leaders is trying to put pressure on Congress to address the national debt – and says tens of thousands of Missouri jobs are at stake.  The Missouri “Fix the Debt” campaign held its first event in Jefferson City Monday. The group is urging action before the so-called fiscal cliff takes effect.

“My administration estimates that driving off that cliff could cost 40 thousand jobs right here in Missouri alone.”

“We’ve kicked the can down the road far too long at the Federal level.”

“They talk about across-the-board cuts, which are absolutely nonsense.” 

“Members of Congress must come together on a bipartisan basis.”

Those are quotes from State Treasurer Clint Zwiefel, former Governor Bob Holden, former US Senator Kit Bond and Lt. Governor Peter Kinder. Two Democrats, and two Republicans, respectively, all co-chairing the Missouri chapter of a larger national group of political and business leaders urging bipartisanship in Washington.  

“The campaign understands that the solution to the problem requires a bipartisan compromise. I’m no Pollyanna. I recognize that bipartisan consensus is no small stump to jump, and sometimes tough to accomplish,” Bond said.

This comes as the fiscal cliff is looming - a group of tax increases and budget cuts that will go into effect at the end of the year if Congress doesn’t act – officially known as sequestration. Bond calls it an unhappy compromise between the President and Congress.

“To say we can’t fix this, we can’t come together, so we’re going to hold guns to our head. So that sequestration is really a bad idea,” Bond said.

Zweifel says his office estimates Missouri would lose 40,000 jobs if Congress does not act on the fiscal cliff. But he, like the other co-chairs, said there are many other fiscal issues Congress needs to start acting on; including one he’s very familiar with as state treasurer.

“Actually dealing with the debt itself. If we don’t modify our current fiscal policy, we’ll owe more than 1 trillion dollars in annual interest payments by 2024,” Zweifel said.

The “Fix the Debt” Missouri group is joining a national campaign put together by the leaders of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Miles Ross, who is heading up the Missouri campaign, described it as a grassroots effort to get members of both parties to come together and have serious, adult conversations. One reporter asked Ross if Congress can do that, which made him pause, and chuckle.

“Next question!” Ross joked, “ I think that’s a great way to end this press conference.”