11/11/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

We Are Much More Than a Fiscal Watchdog

In a recent Huffington Post piece, "Lewin Group Rears Its Head On Eve Of Health Care Reform Address" blogger Jason Linkins was right about one thing -- we are so much more than a fiscal watchdog group.

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation is an independent foundation dedicated to making sure the American people get unfiltered, unbiased and complete information about the state of our federal government's finances and the potential impact of policy decisions on today's and future generations.

We commissioned the Lewin Group to study the longer-term costs of America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 because it is important to understand the costs of that legislation beyond the Congressional Budget Office's 10 year projection. The Lewin Group study is just one example of the work we support to inform the public and hold Washington accountable.

For a look at the full report, please visit:

Now Jason did get some things wrong and we feel compelled to clear the air.


We don't take political sides. That would be counter to our mission. We strive to hold both parties accountable for putting off tough decisions, and we've called out President George W. Bush for being the most fiscally irresponsible president in our nation's history. And as much as we agree with President Barack Obama that we must fix our broken health care system and achieve universal access to health care, we want the public to be informed about potential policy decisions that might make our fiscal situation worse than it is already.

Health care:

There is no doubt we need to move to universal health care coverage. To achieve this goal in a sustainable way we must make our health care system more efficient and slow down the growth in health care costs.

Over the past three decades, other developed nations have done a much better job of keeping their health care costs in check. Virtually all of our major economic competitors in the developed world already provide universal coverage, and they do so for about $3,500 per person every year-half that of the United States' $7,000 per person costs.

We know it's possible to spend less money on health care and still improve quality because many communities have already done that. The Dartmouth Atlas Project has repeatedly documented that many regions throughout the country manage to spend less on health care than the national average while achieving exceptionally high quality.

Expanding coverage will improve many people's lives, but it will cost money. Health care costs are already out-of-control and threaten the living standards of all Americans. Paying for expanded coverage is not enough because we as a society already spend too much on health care. We must take steps to reduce current health care costs and reduce the rate of increase in future health care costs. If we do not, health care costs will continue to eat up money that could otherwise be used for education, clean energy research or other important priorities.

Social Security:

One-third of all retirees rely on Social Security for over 90% of their annual income, so it is a vital program which retirees will count on long into the future. Due to demographic changes, Social Security is projected to owe substantially more in benefits than it collects in taxes and it is projected to run out of money in 2037 at which point revenues will only cover 76% of benefits owed. We believe that through simple reforms, we can put Social Security on a better fiscal path while still preserving its core function of providing a safety net for retirees. Democrats and Republicans alike say the program needs to be reformed in order to remain solvent and secure for future generations. That's why we need to address its financing challenges now.