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Working Together to Avoid the Fiscal Cliff

Monday, November 19, 2012 10:05 am EST

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By:

Mark Bertolini, Chairman and CEO, Aetna

The fiscal cliff is a very real, very serious problem. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that going over the cliff would shrink the U.S. economy by an annualized 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

That means our economy plunges back into recession: consumers will cut back on spending and the resulting decline in demand for products and services will force companies to reduce investment and eliminate jobs. The CBO estimates that unemployment would increase to over 9 percent.

That is an outcome no one wants. The American Dream is alive and well, and we want it to continue. I have joined with a group of business leaders, the President and Congressional leaders of both parties who are working together to build support for a bipartisan, long-term plan that effectively addresses our national debt and prevents a drop over the fiscal cliff. Such a deal would allow business to meaningfully invest again, creating a new period of sustained economic growth. To get there, we need: 

  • A 10-year plan that includes a combination of tax and entitlement reforms – the bipartisan Simpson/Bowles approach is a great place to start.
  • To stop the potential collapse of the health care safety net. Growing Medicare/Medicaid spending consumes over half of the federal budget and is a significant driver of our national debt. We want Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security preserved for future generations, which means taking a long-term view on how we take these critically important programs forward.
  • Leadership from the President and Congress. Elected officials must show the courage to lead and the urgency to get a deal done quickly.

During natural disasters, our leaders have put differences aside and worked side-by-side to do the right thing for Americans. We all—the President, Congress and the private sector--need to approach our debt crisis the same way.

We need to come together as a nation to tackle the problem. We do not have to agree on everything, but we do need to put aside political differences to head off a new economic crisis. Compromise is what’s needed, and that means we all may need to sacrifice something in the best interests of our country and our fellow Americans.

I hope you will join us and be part of the solution to put Americans back to work.

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