WASHINGTON -- The Concord Coalition today released “Key Questions Voters Should Ask Candidates About the Budget, Social Security and Medicare,” (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) a brochure proposing six questions that citizens and members of the media should ask candidates for federal office. Each question features background information to provide context on these critical issues.
“Political campaigns are the ideal time to question candidates. Well-informed voters can use these exchanges to find out where candidates really stand and to let the candidates know what they think. But many politicians have a tendency to gloss over tough issues, minimize problems and offer easy-sounding solutions instead of giving detailed, specific answers. While there is no single correct answer to any of the questions, these issues need to be debated on the campaign trail. Concord's key questions provide a framework for ensuring that candidates address some of the toughest choices they will face about the budget, Social Security and Medicare if they're elected,” said Executive Director Robert Bixby.
1. Do you believe that Congress and the President should agree on a new plan to balance the budget, and if so, should that plan exclude the Social Security surplus?
2. Following the attacks of September 11th, 2001 a strong bipartisan consensus has developed to increase spending on national security at home and abroad. Do you believe that this new spending should be offset with cuts in other areas, paid for by tax increases, or deficit financed?
3. Is debt reduction a priority for you, and if so, how would you balance debt reduction against other priorities?
4. Last year when large surpluses were expected throughout the decade, Congress and President Bush agreed to a tax cut plan that won't be fully phased in until 2010. Now that deficits of $100 billion or more are expected for the next few years--$300 billion if the Social Security surplus is excluded--do you believe the tax cuts that have not yet taken effect should be delayed until the budget is back in balance?
5. Social Security will begin spending more than it collects in taxes by 2017. After that, Social Security will run growing annual cash deficits in the trillions of dollars. How do you propose to reduce the growing financial burden on future taxpayers, while at the same time protecting the retirement security of future beneficiaries, or do you support the “Do Nothing Plan?”
6. Leading proposals in Congress for adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare would cost from $350 billion to $800 billion over the next 10 years. But Medicare's costs are already projected to double over this time, even before most of the huge baby boom generation qualifies for benefits. If you agree that a prescription drug benefit should be added to Medicare, how do you propose to pay for it?