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Lecture to focus on debt crisis

Former White House official, senator talk national deficit

Published: Sunday, January 26, 2014

Updated: Sunday, January 26, 2014 23:01

The Bush School of Government and Public Service will host former White House Chief of Staff Erskine B. Bowles, and former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson, on Wednesday to discuss the nation’s debt crisis in an event titled “What Will It Take to Fix the National Debt?”

The Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy will present the event through the Bush School as part of the ConocoPhillips White House Lecture Series.

Simpson and Bowles have both been involved in working to solve the debt crisis and will give students insight as to why the problem is such a difficult one to tackle, said Lori Taylor, director of the Mosbacher Institute.

“Both have come together for a very non-partisan discussion,” she said. “I think it’s a very big problem and that it’s important that we get beyond politics [to solve it.]”

The U.S. national debt stands at just over $17 trillion. Taylor said the country has gotten into an “unfortunate pattern” that should be of concern to students.

“When interest rates go back to normal, the burden will go back up substantially,” she said. “Students should be concerned because they’ll be the ones that have to pay for it.”

Taylor said the series aims to achieve enlightenment in its audiences through the discussion of various political issues.

“[The series wants] to bring these important policy issues to the fore and [point out] that there are not just problems, but also solutions,” Taylor said.

Mary Christina Riley, a graduate student in public service and administration and member of the Ambassadors, a student organization within the Bush School, said she will help to work the event with the organization and is looking forward to hearing from such “high profile” influential leaders as Bowles and Simpson. She said students have a lot to gain by hearing from both men.

“These two men came together in a bipartisan way to address this problem,” Riley said.” It’s a huge issue that reaches every home in America. “
David Leclere, a graduate student in public service and administration and graduate assistant for the Mosbacher Institute, said the debt issue is relevant to students now because it affects many areas of study, especially those of government, where jobs may be limited for students unless the debt goes down, or science and research, which rely heavily on government funding to supply jobs.

“Considering the debt continues to climb, reform will need to be had at some point, so the question is, ‘Who is going to end up paying for it?’ Us and our children and our grandchildren,” Leclere said. “The sooner we can come to some consensus in terms of reform, the sooner it will benefit everyone.”

During the presentation, Bowles and Simpson will be given the Mosbacher Institute’s Good Governance Award to recognize the political barriers they have broken to help solve the nation’s debt crisis, Taylor said.

“The award recognizes the work that public sector has done to promote high-quality decision making in public service,” Taylor said. “When it would have been easy to be partisan, [Simpson and Bowles] put the country first and have come up with set of policy, not politically popular, but effective — and that’s desirable. We identified early on that they would be excellent recipients and we’re very fortunate that our acting dean, Andrew Card, was able to get us in touch with them and sell them on the idea of coming to talk [at the Bush School.]”

The event will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center.  Although the event is free, reservations are required and can be made through the Bush School’s website.   

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