With presidential hopefuls kicking off their official campaigns, voters should keep in mind that the next occupant of the White House must lead the country in putting the government on a more responsible and sustainable fiscal path.
So candidates should be expected to explain in some detail how they would deal with the growing federal debt and related challenges, such as the increasing pressure that an aging population puts on Social Security and Medicare.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, while not a declared candidate, today in New Hampshire proposed some significant changes in federal entitlement programs, including higher retirement ages, tax changes to encourage older persons to stay in the workforce, and means-testing that would phase out Social Security benefits for taxpayers with more than $200,000 a year in other income.
“As with all such comprehensive proposals, this one should receive careful scrutiny and discussion,” said Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby. “But Christie deserves credit for addressing the crucial issue of entitlement reform in a specific and substantive manner. We encourage others to also share their visions of fiscal reform.”
In an interview last week with The Record (New Jersey), Bixby noted that many candidates had failed to devote sufficient attention to this subject — or detailed deficit-reduction plans — in the past.
“It is something presidential candidates often skirt,” Bixby said. “A lot of them have lots of things to say about balancing the budget and the debt being too high, but they never get around to saying what they’re going to do about it.”
Concord and the Campaign to Fix the Debt have launched “First Budget,” a joint non-partisan initiative to encourage presidential candidates to make addressing the nation’s unsustainable fiscal policies a key part of their campaigns.
First Budget Website
Text of Governor Christie’s New Hampshire Speech
Chris Christie Bets on Bold (Yahoo Video Interview)
Social Security Reform a Potential Minefield for 2016 Contenders (National Journal)
Christie to Take on Social Security Costs (The Record)