“There are countless things we can do to eat our spinach,” said Concord Coalition National Field Director Phil Smith about fixing the nation’s fiscal problems. “Politicians have taken such a short-term view of things we have to go from lurching to leadership.”
The eighth episode of “Facing the Future” featured Smith as well as Marjorie Dufek, Concord’s North Carolina state coordinator. Both shared their experiences presenting Concord events and hearing citizens' perspectives on fiscal issues throughout the country.
Both stressed the need for effective leadership by elected officials.
Smith said Concord’s budget exercises are among its most effective public education tools. He said participants consider various policy options, come to their own conclusions and learn by doing.
“One thing that is consistent across the country . . . when they see the true budget picture, they see the real math, then they can make educated decisions,” Smith said.
He contrasted how citizens are able to make tough choices on fiscal policy issues but elected leaders seldom take action.
There has sometimes been leadership in the past on fiscal issues. Dufek pointed to the balanced budgets under the Clinton administration, when Republicans and Democrats were willing to make some compromises.
“In a way it led to some complacency,” she said; “People thought, ‘Oh, the problem is solved,” Yet fundamental structural issues remain.
“It would have been so much easier to solve the problem if we had done it 20 years ago,” Dufek said.
She emphasized the need for citizens to grasp the connection between their interests and the federal budget.
“To me, the only thing that can change is for voters to understand what we’re doing; we’re leaving a huge mountain of debt to our children and our grandchildren.”
“Once people realize the implications of what we’re doing,” Dufek added, “I believe they will demand change.
I host “Facing the Future” each week on WKXL Concord News Radio (N.H.), which is also available via podcast. Join us as we discuss issues relating to national fiscal policy with budget experts, industry leaders, elected officials and candidates for public office. Past broadcasts are available here. You can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or through RSS.