Science Fiction Doesn’t Work for Fiscal Policy

Blog Post
Monday, June 11, 2018

“I think our issue is in outer space at the moment,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition.

The fiscal challenges facing our nation, and the lack of attention given them, seem unreal. Add in vast and expansive numbers, and you may have the beginnings of a work of science fiction.

The nation’s $21 trillion debt, recurring trillion dollar annual budget deficits and growing cash deficits in key social programs ought to get candidates for Congress and president talking about long-term, bipartisan solutions to such fiscal issues.

Instead, they appear to be heading down the path of fiscal unsustainability at warp speed.

During the latest episode of “Facing the Future,” Bixby and New Hampshire political reporter Paul Steinhauser discussed the upcoming Congressional midterm elections, the fast approaching 2020 presidential election and “Fiscal Fridays,” a collaboration between The Concord Coalition and NH1 News.

“Fiscal Fridays” was a half-hour television program that interviewed candidates -- including now President Donald Trump -- during the 2016 election cycle on topics related to fiscal policy, hosted by Steinhauser.

“This was just a terrific format...especially for the voters.” said Steinhauser. “They are the real winners here because they got to go in depth on fiscal matters, pocket-book matters.”

Steinhauser said that most candidates were often more direct during the “Fiscal Fridays” interviews than they otherwise were during brief interactions on the campaign trail.

“Some of the more controversial social issues they would dance around, but not on fiscal policy,” Steinhauser said. “I think they were all pretty hungry to talk about that and I hope they will all be hungry to talk about it again.”

Sometimes such candidness resulted in statements that received national attention, like remarks made by Ohio Governor John Kasich.

“He did say something rather controversial about Social Security,” Bixby said. “I was at the airport waiting to go home and already it was up on social media.”

Bixby said such coverage was helpful in getting other candidates to share their positions on various fiscal matters, which was part of the purpose of the program.

Both Bixby and Steinhauser acknowledged that the subject of fiscal policy is not one that is always attractive to voters. Bixby said that is one of the reasons Concord continues its efforts.

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.