* Executives, former officials want debt share stabilized
* Call for major reforms of tax code, entitlement programs
(Corrects name of New America Foundation committee in
By Laura MacInnis
WASHINGTON, Sept 12 Business leaders and former
U.S. government officials on Monday urged a congressional
committee tasked with slashing America's debt to "go big" and
consider major reforms of government assistance programs as
well as the tax code.
In a letter to the "super committee," nearly 60 executives
and former Treasury officials spanning several administrations
said they wanted to see large-scale cuts to stabilize the U.S.
debt as a share of the economy.
"We urge you to 'go big,'" they wrote in a letter organized
by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget at the New
America Foundation, a bipartisan research group.
"We believe that a go-big approach that goes well beyond
the $1.5 trillion deficit reduction goal" should include "major
reforms of entitlement programs and the tax code," they wrote.
The congressional "super committee" of six Republican and
six Democratic lawmakers was formed as part of an August deal
to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.
It met for the first time last week and must report by late
November on ideas to save at least $1.2 trillion from federal
budgets over 10 years. U.S. President Barack Obama will present
his recommendations to the super committee next Monday.
The Democratic president initially said the panel's target
should be closer to $1.5 trillion, and said on Thursday they
would also need to cover his $447 billion jobs package with
long-term cuts, bringing the total to $2 trillion or more.
Obama hopes that by identifying ways to trim budgets in the
future, he will be able to boost short-term growth enough to
bring down the 9.1 percent unemployment rate that is casting a
shadow over his re-election prospects next year.
Republicans concerned about large and growing U.S. debt
levels refused to raise the U.S. debt ceiling unless Obama
agreed to cut spending. Their bitter dispute brought the United
States to the edge of default and prompted a Standard & Poor's
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, whose
members include former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, former
Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former Congressional
Budget Office director Alice Rivlin, said last week that $1.5
trillion was not enough to put the U.S. budget on a sustainable