Addressing the U.S. debt is a national security imperative

A coalition of former high-ranking government officials, including Baker Institute honorary chair James A. Baker, III, recently published a statement urging elected leaders to agree on a budget plan that averts the fiscal cliff and "puts the debt on a downward path."

The message from the 15-member Coalition for Fiscal and National Security -- which appeared, among other places, online and in full-page ads in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal -- provides guidelines to achieve these objectives. It calls for spending cuts over the next 10 years, tax reforms to raise more revenues, and "changes to entitlements to put them on a sustainable long-term path."  In addition, coalition members write, "advances in technological capabilities and the changing nature of threats make it possible, if properly done, to spend less" on an efficient and intelligent U.S. defense strategy.

A four-page document expanding on the general framework proposed by the coalition is available here.

In addition to Baker, the signatories to the statement of principles are: Admiral Michael G. Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Madeleine K. Albright, former secretary of state; Samuel R. Berger, former national security advisor; Harold Brown, former secretary of defense; Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor; Frank Carlucci, former secretary of defense; Robert M. Gates, former secretary of defense; Henry A. Kissinger, former secretary of state and national security advisor; Sam Nunn, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services; Paul O"Neill, former secretary of the treasury; George P. Shultz, former secretary of state and the treasury; Ike Skelton, former chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services; Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; and John Warner, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.