Former President Bill Clinton, White House budget director Peter Orszag, and former Federal Reserve Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker will be among the high profile speakers at a fiscal policy summit on Wednesday in Washington, hosted by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. The meeting on the federal debt and deficit will come just a day after a more official version: The inaugural meeting of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
While the White House commission is charged with developing policy recommendations to bring the budget into greater long-term balance, the foundation says its event will kick off a "national bipartisan dialogue" on these issues.
The foundation and the White House agree that fallout from the recession, growing health care costs and the cost of war, among other issues, threaten the long-term economic stability of the United States. As with most issues in Washington, corporations, seniors groups and experts from across the political spectrum are lining up to get a say in the policies that emerge from these groups.
Meanwhile, liberal activists are planning a press conference and countersummit. They say that the commission is a back-door avenue to cut safety net benefits such as Social Security and Medicare, an agenda they accuse the Peterson Foundation of sharing.
Wall Street magnate Peter Peterson pledged $1 billion to his foundation to raise awareness and prompt action, though it does not lobby or support a specific strategy for tackling these issues. (The Fiscal Times, an independent business venture, is also funded by Peter Peterson, but is not affiliated with his foundation.)
Several of Obama's commission members, including co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, are taking part in the Peterson Foundation event. Also appearing from the commission will be Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Alice Rivlin, the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office.
Clinton will give the keynote address, according to a release from the foundation. Other participating officials from his administration include former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and former chief of staff John Podesta, now head of the Center for American Progress. The foundation also says it will unveil the results of a survey of former government officials on fiscal issues.