Newspaper article Roll Call

Voters Need to Tell Presidential Candidates That Responsible Budgeting Is a Priority

Newspaper article Roll Call

Voters Need to Tell Presidential Candidates That Responsible Budgeting Is a Priority

Article excerpt

As former - and maybe reformed - elected officials, we know how much politicians like to talk about good news: tax breaks, infrastructure improvements, job growth announcements.

But they are far less interested in talking about the bad news and hard choices on the horizon as the federal debt continues on an unsustainable upward path.

Politicians don't see big constituencies for that kind of news, and no special interests score them on whether they discuss it with voters. Even the close cousin of bad news - blunt talk - is usually avoided in politics.

Yet, politicians and voters alike should understand sacrifices will be necessary in the years ahead as an aging population, rising health care costs and a deeply flawed tax system put more and more pressure on the federal budget.

Only by acknowledging difficult budget realities can we hope to chart a better course that promises fiscal stability, a stronger economy and a brighter future for the country.

The short-term improvements in the deficit are just that - short term. Economists at the Congressional Budget Office and elsewhere agree the long-term outlook is bleak unless we take steps now to do something about it.

That's one reason the Concord Coalition and the Campaign to Fix the Debt have come together to raise the issue during the 2016 presidential campaign under the nonpartisan label of "First Budget." Concord and Fix the Debt have long been committed to fiscal responsibility, regardless of party affiliation.

Unless candidates for president are pressured, they'd rather not focus on the bad news about the national debt. But we will be in Iowa and New Hampshire with citizen activists engaging candidates on the subject. Congress has not been interested in addressing the issues, and it is critical that the next president comes into office with a budget plan that reflects the reality of the situation.

The federal debt is now the highest it has been in our history, other than during World War II. It's true that short-term deficits have come down and Washington has enacted more than $4 trillion of 10-year deficit reduction to help stabilize the medium-term situation. …

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