CHARLESTON - There are serious problems in the country that cannot be solved by the political rhetoric and posturing of either party, said two men who attended the state's first bipartisan federal fiscal summit Monday in Charleston.
Retired engineer Ray Foss of Parkersburg and author Scott Craig Mooney of Coshocton, Ohio, were among many from the region to attend "Our Finances & Our Future: A Bipartisan Conversation About the Facts" at the state Cultural Center Theater.
The event was hosted by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and featured former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican, and Erskine Bowles, the White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. The two men also spearheaded the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as the Simpson Bowles Committee.
''Senator Manchin set up such a marvelous forum that was not only free-ranging, but very plain-spoken,'' Foss said. ''Bipartisanship was honored there.''
Foss describes himself as someone interested in "Christian Economic Justice." Mooney authored "Fall of The House of Usury: What Is Wrong With the Economy and How to Fix It." He wrote another book dealing with monetary issues.
The two met while collaborating on an article on rethinking money.
Mooney said he got the impression from those involved in the summit that many on the national level who are worried about the apparent continuing deterioration of the national economy through the national debt and deficit spending were what he described as people "having the cold sweats."
''There are some very serious problems afoot,'' he said. ''We are flirting with disaster and 'disaster' is not too strong a word.
''All of this gamesmanship between Republicans and Democrats, we have to get past that. We have to set that aside and face what is coming, take it by the horns and fix it, if possible,'' Mooney said.
Politicians have long spoken about serious problems because they want to talk about it as created by their opponent and if they are elected the problems can be solved, he said. Mooney said they were impressed with Simpson and Bowles because they did not speak as typical politicians trying to present one side or another of an argument or as someone playing to the crowd.
''They basically lay things out and say 'this is crazy,''' he said. ''These are people who are not ranting tea partiers or ranting occupiers, these are respected leaders who are saying our situation is crazy and the things we are doing are just stupid.
''Very, very, very bad things are going to happen if something is not done.''
Commenting on something Manchin brought up regarding a high ranking Navy admiral saying one of the greatest threats to American security was "out of control debt spending," Mooney said it is considered greater than terrorism, problems with Iran and other geopolitical situations.
Mooney said it was not strictly a fiscal problem, that there were social issues at play. Also some of the ways of addressing these problems could impact the financial markets, he said.
From what was presented at the summit, Foss said the country can't grow economically enough or tax cut its way out of the problem.
''If financial solutions are effective and fix it, will it not create social problems?'' he asked of a segment of the population unable to afford the housing they are living in and other problems that would arise.
Simpson and Bowles laid out four points that have to be addressed or nothing will ever get fixed, Mooney said. These points are bringing health care spending under control as the U.S. spends twice as much as any industrialized country in the world; national defense spending in that the U.S. spends more on military than the next largest 15 countries combined, including China and Russia; continuing problems with the U.S. tax code; and the matter of compound interest on the national debt, which amounts to $250 billion annually.
However, some politicians in Washington, D.C., from both sides do not want to touch what this group is saying because of the political fallout, Mooney said.
''The Democrats and Republicans arguing back and forth about the Democrats and Republicans isn't going to get us anywhere,'' he said. ''We have to quit all of this and get serious and get busy.''