Sound the alarm: The former comptroller warns of deficit disaster

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Paul Revere rode a horse to warn colonial Americans about the Redcoats. David M. Walker is riding a bus to warn this generation of Americans about fountains of red ink gushing from the federal government's spending spigots.

The country should pay attention. Although currently an itinerant fiscal evangelist, Mr. Walker is far from being a crank; he is a former U.S. comptroller with an expert command of the facts on deficit spending. He is now the CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, a privately funded organization that preaches fiscal responsibility.

While he considered (but rejected) running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut, his government service spanned both the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. On his nationwide "$10 Million a Minute Tour," which brought him to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, his approach is purposefully nonpartisan.

That's just as well because he has good news and bad news for the diehards of both political parties. The good news is that there is still time to avert a looming Greece-like financial catastrophe.

The bad news is that it will take both parties to recognize truths that they would rather not -- spending must be reduced and revenues (read taxes) must be raised, albeit as part of a sweeping tax reform and with enough spending retained to help those Americans who can't help themselves. He argues persuasively that there's no other way.

Mr. Walker brought his message to the Rotary Club of Pittsburgh at its weekly luncheon and later to the campus of Carnegie Mellon University. He contends that the deficit problem is far bigger than politicians will admit -- not $16 trillion but really $70 trillion when unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare are factored in.

He is concerned that neither President Barack Obama nor Republican nominee Mitt Romney have a plan for the future, although both may say they want a grand bargain with the other party after the election. That observation can be confirmed by any voter contemplating the vague promises being made this election season.

Whoever wins in November should consider bringing Mr. Walker back into the government. He has a sound, balanced plan and the knowledge to make it work.

opinion_editorials


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