Facing the Future

The Concord Coalition


How the nation’s fiscal and economic challenges, and possible solutions, impact current and future generations.

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176 episodes

Congressional Dysfunction Strengthens the Power of the Executive Branch

This week on Facing the Future, we hear from Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Molly Reynolds who specializes in researching Congress. She says the failure of Congress to do the most basic things like pass an annual budget due to partisan polarization and dysfunction weakens the institution and dilutes its constitutionally protected role of appropriating government funds. At the same time, this emboldens Presidents to take unilateral executive actions such as forgiving student loans that cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

Dec 07
Concord Coalition Alumni Assess the Biggest Challenges for the Next 30 Years

This week on Facing the Future, excerpts from a special event at the National Press Club in Washington DC celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Concord Coalition's founding. An all-star panel of Concord Coalition alumni featuring Ben Ritz of the Progressive Policy Institute, Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Congressional Economist 'Mom' Diane Lim, and Brian Keane of Smart Power look at the biggest challenges to face the US economy and federal budget such as: how to generate more revenue, saving Social Security and Medicare, climate change, immigration reform, and more.

Nov 30
Entitlement Reform, More Revenue and Immigration Will Help Tackle Our National Debt

This week on Facing the Future, a special Thanksgiving edition of the program taken from a recent all-star Concord Coalition panel discussion at Fresno State University in California focusing on some of the biggest upcoming challenges facing our economy and federal budget. Reforming Social Security, reducing health care costs, raising revenue and increasing immigration were among the options on the menu that could all help slow the growth of our national debt and increase economic output over the next 30 years.

Nov 23
Osterholm: COVID Revealed Major Flaws in American Health Care that We Must Fix

This week on Facing the Future, we hear once again from internationally recognized expert on infectious disease and epidemiology Dr. Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota. Osterholm and his colleagues who advised the Biden Administration on the COVID-19 pandemic recently wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times. They make the case that we must learn from our experience and we have so much work to do to invest in our health care and disease surveillance infrastructure. If we don't, we will be woefully under-prepared for the next pandemic and related economic crisis. Plus, we take a look at the latest inflation numbers.

Nov 16
How The Midterm Elections Might Impact Crucial Budget and Debt Ceiling Matters

This week on Facing the Future, we try to read the tea leaves from an extraordinarily close midterm election result in 2022. It could have a profound impact on what Congress decides to do about funding the government and raising the debt ceiling, two crucial priorities that lawmakers were putting off until after Election Day. We are joined by American University Professor and former Democratic House Budget Committee staff director Tom Kahn, and financial investment advisor Pete Davis who used to staff the Senate Republican Budget Committee. 

Nov 09
Economist Claudia Sahm Questions How the Fed is Fighting Inflation

This week on Facing the Future, Concord Coalition Policy Director Tori Gorman fills in as host and speaks with economist Claudia Sahm who has worked at both the Federal Reserve and the White House. Sahm questions whether the Fed is taking the right approach to fighting inflation by raising interest rates so rapidly. The originator of the 'Sahm rule' in economic forecasting says there's a risk Fed's actions might needlessly cause a global recession and put millions of people out of work in the US and abroad.

Nov 03
The Long-Term Economic Outlook from Austin Texas

This week on Facing the Future, we're on the road in Austin Texas for a panel discussion on America's long-term economic outlook. We hear from University of Texas economist and public policy professor James K. Galbraith, who says we need to get used to America not dominating global economic and military matters, and Will Marshall, founder and president of the Progressive Policy Institute, who says big tech are the innovators of our time and we need to focus more investment on non-college education and training for the jobs of the future.

Oct 26
High Inflation Points to a Recession in 2023 - How Bad Will it Be?

This week on Facing the Future, we speak to Concord Coalition policy director Tori Gorman and chief economist Steve Robinson about the prospects for an economic recession in 2023 as the Fed raises interest rates to bring down inflation. Prices remain stubbornly high. We also hear from Nick Troiano, executive director of Unite America, about that organization's state-by-state effort to open up party primaries to all eligible voters in the hopes that it will get us a less ideologically polarized Congress. 

Oct 19
The Growing Debt is Getting More Expensive - Will Congress Wake Up?

This Week on Facing the Future, we check in with Bill Hoagland, Senior Vice President of the Washington DC based Bipartisan Policy Center for a situational awareness update on the growing national debt. It just passed the $31 Trillion mark and with interest rates going up to combat inflation, that debt has become much more expensive to carry. Plus, we'll look at a complicated Social Security Proposal that's somewhat popular but a bad idea.

Oct 12
An Easy Way to Reduce the Legal Immigration Backlog and Increase Economic Output?

This week on Facing the Future, we hear from Gordon Gray, Director of Fiscal Policy at the American Action Forum. He has written a new paper with a proposal that could add another 900,000 new Americans to the labor force of this country and reduce the major backlog of legal immigration by making a modest investment in the federal agency charged with processing skilled work visa applications. Gray estimates it could add more than $100 billion in economic output every year.

Oct 06
The Biden Student Loan Forgiveness Plan: Is it Legal?

This Week on Facing the Future, we ask the Concord Coalition's chief economist Steve Robinson whether President Biden's executive action forgiving up to $20,000 in college loan debt for some students exceeds Presidential authority. The Constitution gives Congress sole authority to appropriate federal funds. Some estimate the student debt forgiveness will cost taxpayers at least $500 billion, which would be the largest federal expenditure without Congressional approval in American history. Plus we get updates on Congressional budget action and how the economy is reacting to the Fed's efforts to fight inflation.

Sep 29
The Concord Coalition Turns 30!

This week on Facing the Future, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Concord Coalition by hearing from both national co-chairs of the organization, Democrat and former Nebraska Senator and Governor Bob Kerrey and Republican former Missouri Senator Jack Danforth, about current and future fiscal challenges facing the United States. We are also joined by Rich Ashooh, the coalition's very first New Hampshire state director, who later served as Assistant US Secretary of Commerce.

Sep 21
Declining US Fertility Rates amid Stubbornly High Inflation

This week on Facing the Future, we talk to University of New Hampshire demographer Ken Johnson about the historically low growth in US population, thanks to a 14-year trend of declining fertility rates. It has major implications for future economic growth and the federal budget. Plus, we'll look at the latest inflation numbers, which went slightly higher in August after a decline the previous month. 

Sep 14
Will the Inflation Reduction Act Lower Federal Health Care Spending?

This week on Facing the Future, we closely examine the health care provisions contained in the recently passed "Inflation Reduction Act" with Josh Gordon, Director of Health Policy for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Gordon walks us through the provisions meant to cut prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients and evaluates if these measures and others will reduce overall federal spending on health care. Plus, he has a few reform ideas of his own.

Sep 07
Cancelling College Debt as Another Potential Government Shutdown Looms

This week on Facing the Future, we will look at the fiscal and policy impact of President Biden's controversial decision to forgive up to $20,000 in debt for many Americans who owe money on loans to pay for college. It could cost taxpayers another half a trillion dollars. And we'll also take a look at what might be holding Congress up as they face a deadline of exactly one month to pass a stop-gap budget measure to keep the government funded and avoid another costly federal shutdown.

Aug 31
State Budgets and Examining ’Replacement Rates’ for Social Security

This week on Facing the Future, we take a deep dive into how state budgets are put together, where they get their revenue, and where the money goes. Turns out, states have some of the same long-term debt problems the federal government does. Then we hear from Concord Coalition Chief Economist Steve Robinson on his new issue brief looking at whether the level of working income Social Security replaces for older Americans needs reform.

Aug 17
Reconciliation Bill on Climate and Health Care Passes While Inflation Shows Signs of an Ebb

This week on Facing the Future, we have an in-house panel discussion with congressional and economic experts from the Concord Coalition including policy director Tori Gorman and chief economist Steve Robinson to discuss the Senate passage of the budget reconciliation bill including many of President Biden's domestic agenda priorities on health care and measures to address climate change, plus take a look at fresh new economic data that shows inflation may be starting to ebb while the job market remains strong.

Aug 10
CBO Long-Term Budget Outlook: Rising Deficits, Debt and Economic Challenges

This week on Facing the Future, we have the privilege of hearing from Dr. Phillip Swagel, Director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO just released its annual long-term budget outlook which shows that after a brief couple of years of shrinking budget deficits, over the long-term the national debt will almost double, leading to restrained economic growth. Concord's chief economist Steve Robinson and policy director Tori Gorman also join the conversation.

Aug 03
The Growing Cost of Russia’s War in Ukraine

This week on Facing the Future, we revisit the war in Ukraine - literally. We get an on-the-ground account from the front lines of Russia's deadly invasion of Ukraine and its devastating human impact from reporter Jason Beaubien, who has been covering the war for NPR. Later on in the program, a big picture strategic assessment of the choices and higher costs facing the US as the war grinds on from national security and foreign policy expert Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution.

Jul 27
Making the ’Case’ in Congress for Fiscal Discipline

This week on Facing the Future, we hear from Hawaii Democratic Congressman Ed Case about the sometimes lonely struggle in Congress to convince his colleagues to pay for the programs they support, and find ways to address the long-term national debt and solvency of Medicare and Social Security. We also get analysis of a new report that shows how Congress routinely gives the Defense Department billions of your money more than the Pentagon asks for. 

Jul 20
Budget Reconciliation Package for Biden Domestic Agenda has a Pulse

This week on Facing the Future, we take a look at legislation that seems to be making its way through Congress that may just salvage a bit of President Biden's domestic agenda. It even includes some deficit reduction elements, new taxes, and prescription drug price reductions for Medicare. Concord Coalition's policy director Tori Gorman and chief economist Steve Robinson join the conversation, as we also look at the latest economic data and a new issue paper on how the national debt burdens future generations.

Jul 13
How Should We Fix Social Security?

This week on Facing the Future, we are joined once again by Marc Goldwein, Senior Vice President and Senior Policy Director with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, as we look at various options to fix Social Security. A recent report from the trustees of the Social Security trust fund estimates that the trust fund will be insolvent by 2035 if Congress doesn't take major action. Insolvency could lead to major benefit cuts for retirees and the disabled. Concord's policy director Tori Gorman and chief economist Steve Robinson also join the discussion.

Jun 29
The DC Economic Conundrum

This week on Facing the Future, it looks like the economic party is really over. After nearly 15 years of extremely low interest rates leading to economic stimulus, tax cuts, and spending and borrowing sprees, we now have the highest inflation in 40 years. But as the federal reserve tries to lower inflation by hiking interest rates, many economists and DC politicians are now openly acknowledging that we may be headed for a recession.  So what can Congress and the Biden administration do? Concord Coalition policy director Tori Gorman and chief economist Steve Robinson join me.     

Jun 22
Social Security and Medicare Creep Towards Insolvency

This week on Facing the Future, we once again return to an all-star panel of Concord Coalition experts to examine the latest reports from the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds.  Those reports show that without major action by Congress, the Medicare Trust Fund will be out of money by 2028, and the Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted by 2035. Concord Communications Director Av Harris sits in as guest host.   

Jun 15
David Gergen: It’s time for Baby Boomers to Pass the Baton

This week on Facing the Future, we hear from Harvard Kennedy School of Government professor of public service David Gergen, who served as a White House Advisor to four US presidents (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton). Gergen has written a new book called "Hearts Touched with Fire: How Great Leaders are made." His main conclusion: It's time for the Baby Boomer generation to exit stage left and pass the baton of leadership onto Generation X, Millenials, and Gen-Z. 

Jun 08
Breaking Down the 10-year CBO Federal Budget Baseline

This Week on Facing the Future, we take a deep dive into the latest 10-year federal budget and economic outlook newly released by the Congressional Budget Office.  Concord Coalition Executive Director Bob Bixby, chief economist Steve Robinson, policy director Tori Gorman and national field director Phil Smith all team up to crunch the numbers and translate what they mean for your future, in a program hosted by Concord's communications director Av Harris.

Jun 01
COVID Lingers. Have We Learned Any Lessons?

This week on Facing the Future we’ll get an update on COVID-19 as cases and hospitalizations are rising again. We’ll discuss the outlook with Dr. Jodie Guest, an epidemiologist and professor at Emory University. She also serves as an advisor to the Centers for Disease Control. As we face a third summer with COVID, what lessons have we learned and what needs to be done.? Plus, we'll find out whether Monkeypox is a new threat.

May 25
Not Your Father’s Cold War

This week on Facing the Future, we look at the war in Ukraine with Dr. Adam Stulberg, Sam Nunn Professor and Chair in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech University. Concord Coalition policy director Tori Gorman and national field director Phil Smith join the conversation. We'll get Dr Stulberg's perspectives on why Americans should care about this conflict; whether sanctions are an effective tool against Russian aggression; what constitutes "victory," and what long-term consequences may come from the war.

May 18
Congress has a Tall Agenda and a Short Clock

This week on Facing the Future, we’ll look at the busy congressional agenda. between now and the end of the campaign-shortened legislative session. Among the agenda items we'll discuss are: Emergency supplemental aid for Ukraine, additional COVID funding, student loan cancellation, inflation concerns and immigration reform. Plus, we'll ask whether there will ever be a Gen X president. Our guest is Jon Lieber, a former top congressional strategist and now managing director of Eurasia Group's United States Practice. Concord Coalition Policy Director Tori Gorman joins the conversation.

May 11
First Quarter GDP: Down But Not Out

This week on Facing the Future we’ll look at the state of the economy, including  the first quarter GDP report, inflation expectations, the prospects for a "soft landing" as the Fed begins to tighten monetary policy, and whether there are any glimmers of hope for immigration reform. Our guest is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office. Concord Coalition policy director Tori Gorman and chief economist Steve Robinson joined the conversation.

May 04