DC groups: 'Cliff' deal not the end of debt conversation

WASHINGTON: Trade organizations based in the nation's capital say that legislation that helped the country avoid the "fiscal cliff" is only a starting point, not the end of the conversation when it comes to balancing the nation's books and reducing debt.

WASHINGTON: Trade organizations based in the nation's capital say that legislation that helped the country avoid the “fiscal cliff” is only a starting point, not the end of the conversation when it comes to balancing the nation's books and reducing debt.

The Fix the Debt group has launched a new outreach effort called “Hold Your Applause.” The organization contends that the legislation signed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday did nothing to reduce debt, which it says is growing by $3 billion each day.

“The fiscal cliff debt deal…in our view, represents a tremendous squandered opportunity,” said Jon Romano, communications director for the organization. “While we're pleased political leaders helped to avoid a recession, we're extremely disappointed that it did nothing to slow down the trajectory of the nation's debt.”

In addition to advertisements, the organization will announce plans to launch five additional state chapters in the coming days. It is also putting together plans for roundtables and earned media events in 22 states.

“We're not going away; this is only the beginning,” Romano said.

Obama signed legislation this week stopping taxes from going up on the vast majority of Americans and also halting steep federal spending cuts from taking place. However, critics of the legislation noted that little was done to address the issue of the federal debt.

In October, the Fix the Debt group leveraged the CEOs of dozens of US corporations to urge Congress to pass legislation to reduce the federal deficit. Burson-Marsteller's Proof Integrated Communications unit launched a campaign parodying well-known advertising slogans with taglines such as “I'm fixin it” and “Got debt” in November to support its efforts.

On Thursday, the National Retail Federation spent time on Capitol Hill meeting the freshman class of the new Congress and sharing the message that the sooner legislation is passed on the “debt ceiling,” the better. The debt ceiling is shorthand for the point when the US government reaches its authorized spending limit.

“We're talking to them about the need to address it in a smooth and orderly fashion and not let it turn into a crisis,” said Craig Shearman, VP for government affairs PR at NRF. “The last time the debt ceiling came up for a vote, there was a panic that wasn't necessary.”

Meanwhile, the US Chamber of Commerce said it is important to note that the new Congress and the White House need to slow runaway spending through structural entitlement reform. Comprehensive tax reform and a rapid expansion of American energy, which would create jobs and generate government revenue, is also necessary, it said.

Chamber CEO Tom Donohue is planning to share these thoughts as part of his annual “State of American Business” address next Thursday, as well as in several media interviews expected to take place after the speech, said Sally-Shannon Birkel, manager of media relations at the Chamber.  

This article was updated on January 8 to correct the quote from Craig Shearman.

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