Choppy Waters Ahead

Blog Post
Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby and Ashley Hunt, a partner at the Iowa-based PR and government affairs firm LS2, joined the latest Facing the Future to discuss the Iowa Caucus, how the recent Congressional Budget Office budget outlook might impact whoever is president come 2021 and how workforce growth and productivity could impact the economy.

Bixby said “reality may be harsh” for whoever occupies the White House after the 2020 election. 

“What’s confronting all of the candidates and President Trump is four years of unusually high budget deficits and trending up a little bit higher, with spending definitely growing at a faster rate than revenues,” he said. “The budget deficits projected for those four years are all over $1 trillion.”

“That is what the next president is going to have to face, just as a baseline,” Bixby added. 

Bixby also discussed the political realities facing any attempt in the near term to start putting the nation on a better fiscal footing, as well as “pressure points” that might force policymakers to act. 

“I would settle for taking the first steps,” he said. “It would be unrealistic to think that we are going to totally reverse these trends in a four year period, but it will be very, very important for the presidential budget in 2021 to make this a priority.” 

When this show was recorded, the Iowa Caucus had come and gone, but no results had been reported yet. Zero precinct data had been released. Hunt, on the ground in Iowa, provided some insight as to what was going on, what the environment was like and what it is like to engage in the Caucus, generally. 

“Iowa, every Caucus cycle, receives criticism on whether we are right to be first in the nation,” Hunt said. “And now, with this whole fiasco, I would not be surprised if there is a real effort to suspend Iowa as first in the nation … at this point, every Iowan is wondering what is going to happen in four years.” 

She was careful to avoid being overly negative about the Caucus process because Hunt sees many benefits of it. 

“Caucuses really lend themselves to grassroots, retail politicking … and people are thinking through all candidates because, at least on the Democratic side, they have to think through who their second choice might be.” 

She added that it provides a very educated electorate that knows how to vet the candidates and enables lesser-known candidates to compete in smaller, cheaper media markets. Plus, Hunt is a fan of the tradition behind Iowa and New Hampshire as first-in-the-nation. 

Hear more on Facing the Future. I host the program each week on WKXL, NHTalkRadio.com (N.H.), and it is also available via podcast. Join me and my guests as we discuss issues relating to national fiscal policy with budget experts, industry leaders and elected officials. Past broadcasts are available here. You can subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play Music or with an RSS feed. And follow Facing the Future on Facebook.