So far this year, the campaigns of both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama have fallen short in explaining how they believe the nation should deal with the structural imbalances in the federal budget.
“Success, both politically and economically, will require both spending cuts and new revenue,” wrote Paul W. Hansen, western regional director for The Concord Coalition, in op-ed articles published last weekend. “The problem is too big to be solved with ideological purity. That was the guiding premise behind the well-respected report by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who co-chaired The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.”
The President’s budget suggests spending cuts and tax increases, but stops short of the necessary structural changes, Hansen says. Romney has embraced a plan by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) that claims to reduce the debt faster than Obama’s budget but which relies on “implausible assumptions” – and still wouldn’t balance the budget until 2040.
Hansen says voters should expect candidates for federal office to answer some key questions about the nation’s fiscal challenges that have been suggested by Concord. These include whether the candidates support the comprehensive Simpson-Bowles approach, whether they oppose many provisions in the tax code that favor some taxpayers over others, what the candidates think should be done to improve U.S. health care, and what changes they would make, if any, in Social Security.
Noting that neither party will be able to force its own agenda through Congress, Hansen suggests that voters also press candidates to suggest credible ways to move the country forward in a bipartisan manner.