David Walker at the Commonwealth Club

This Commonwealth Club of California event is the best talk I’ve heard on the US fiscal challenge, and most important, some options to resolve the long term clash between promises and ability to pay. Walker served as Comptroller General of the United States for more than nine years, during which he headed the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). He knows the numbers and the politics.

Walker left his position as CEO of the Peter G. Petersen Institute to found the Comeback America Initiative (CAI) (and is author of the book Comeback America). The theme of CAI is to show the voters that there are practical solutions to redesign such as social security tobesustainable and affordable. If the voters can be persuaded then hopefully they will make it clear to the politicians that their jobs are on the line.

Walker’s goal at the June 6 meeting was clearly to promote responsibility in the 2012 US federal elections (especially the presidency, as the #1 problem is leadership).

From the preface to the Restoring Fiscal Sanity Report:

The Comeback America Initiative (CAI) Restoring Fiscal Sanity Report was prepared at the suggestion of CAI’s prestigious Board of Directors, which is comprised primarily of former CEOs, and CAI’s prestigious Advisory Council, which is comprised of many prominent players, including two former Chairmen of the Federal Reserve. The report is fact-based and incorporates the considerable experience of Hon. David M. Walker, CAI’s Founder and CEO, former U.S. Comptroller General, and former Public Trustee of Social Security and Medicare. This includes consideration of his direct interactions with a large number of key government and other leaders in Washington and many thousands of citizens in 48 states.

This report features two illustrative fiscal frameworks. These frameworks are not CAI’s specific proposals; rather they represent illustrative reform proposals based on a range of options that have been suggested by a variety of parties, including various government agencies, commissions, task forces, think tanks and members of the public. This report was prepared with the assistance of Barry Anderson, former Deputy Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the former top career executive at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). All of CAI’s staff and a number of other individuals contributed to the report. The numbers used in the report are based on numbers from the CBO January 2011 baseline and other authoritative sources.