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2009 News Releases

Panel of fiscal experts to present Longwood Simkins Lecture

October 29, 2009

Three members of the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour: Robert Bixby, Isabel Sawhill, and Alison Fraser Three members of the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour will be panelists via video conference for this year's Simkins Lecture. From top to bottom: Robert Bixby, Isabel Sawhill, and Alison Fraser

The Fiscal Wake-Up Tour, a bipartisan effort to engage the public in a civil discussion about tough choices regarding budget controls, tax reform, and spending reprioritization and constraint, is coming to Longwood University.

This year's Simkins Lecture, the tour will be presented via video conference Monday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. in Blackwell Auditorium by three members of the tour. The panelists will be Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition; Isabel Sawhill, director of the Brookings Institution's Budgeting for National Priorities; and Alison Fraser, director of the Heritage Foundation's Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. Also, State Sen. Frank M. Ruff Jr. (R-15th), who is not part of the tour, will attend the program in person and will address local effects of these federal issues with particular attention to the long-term impact on students.

"The members of the tour represent a bipartisan 'who's who' among leading political thinkers who can clearly explain the complexities of federal debt and fiscal responsibility," said Anna Cox, a Longwood faculty member who is one of the program's organizers.

The Fiscal Wake-Up Tour, which is sponsored by the Concord Coalition and has visited more than 50 cities since September 2005, seeks to "explain in plain terms why budget analysts of diverse perspectives are increasingly alarmed by the nation's daunting long-term fiscal outlook," says the Concord Coalition's web site.

"Members of the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour," the web site continues, "do not necessarily agree on the ideal levels of spending, taxes and debt, but we do agree on the following key points: current fiscal policy is unsustainable,...finding solutions will require bipartisan cooperation and a willingness to discuss all options, public engagement and understanding is vital in finding solutions, and this is not about numbers; it is a moral issue."

Bixby, a former attorney, has been with the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility, since its founding in 1992 and has been executive director since 1999. He frequently represents the group's views on budget and entitlement reform policy at congressional hearings and in the national media.

Sawhill is a nationally known budget expert who focuses on domestic poverty and federal fiscal policy. She is also co-director of the Brookings Institution's Center on Children and Families.

Fraser oversees Heritage Foundation research on a wide range of domestic economic issues including federal spending, taxes, energy and environment, retirement savings, and regulation. One of the Roe Institute's priorities is reform of the federal retirement programs: Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. The Heritage Foundation and the Brookings Institution are think tanks.

Ruff, a furniture business owner who lives in Clarksville, represents a district that includes Prince Edward County. He has served in the State Senate since 2000 and served previously in the House of Delegates for six years.

The Simkins Lecture Series was established in 1979 to honor Dr. Francis Butler Simkins, a historian who was one of Longwood's most eminent faculty members. Except for brief periods elsewhere, Simkins, a specialist in Southern history, taught at Longwood from 1928 until his death in 1966.