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Need Goals, Timeframe To Fix Deficit: Travelers CEO

Tuesday, 24 May 2011 | 11:46 AM ET

More defined goals and a longer timeframe are need to reduce spending and shrink the current U.S. deficit, Travelers Insurance Chief Executive Jay Fishman said.

"The notion that we’re going to somehow fix this…by 2020 is really kind of silly," he told CNBC Tuesday. "We need a timeframe that’s far more than that, and we’ve got to have much more articulated goals."

The Travelers executive said there are "a lot of solutions out there" although he has his doubts about Rep. Paul Ryan's deficit plan.

"We’re talking about making changes 10 years from now. If we’ve taken every cost we have and converted it into a fixed cost where nothing can be changed, then we’ve really got some substantive challenges," he said.

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Based on Congressional Budget Office data, the debt is projected to grow to $17.4 trillion by 2020.

"That’s $17 trillion in debt, by the way, for every 100 basis points in rates. That’s $170 billion in additional interest costs the government has to bear," Fishman said. "As a businessperson, if your finance group had given [those figures] to you, you would send them back and say, 'give me something more realistic.'"

There needs to be some type of reform on entitlements, he said. However, "I think it's really un-American to pull the rug out from people" after a lifetime of hard work and trying to provide for themselves and their families.

"Whatever solution we come to, it has to transcend political cycles. We don’t have a 'nevermind' moment available to us over the near term," he said.

"What the global markets are looking for is a statement that we are committed to this, that it’s for real," he said. "If we take $4 billion out of the deficit, that’s a big step. The global markets would take that as a signal."

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