Grassroots, Granite State

Special Guests: Phil Smith, John Bohm

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Concord Coalition National Field Director Phil Smith and Concord Fiscal Lookout John Bohm from Virginia joined me on the latest Facing the Future. Smith provided an update on Concord’s nationwide grassroots efforts, Bohm shared a bit of his history that reaches back to one of Concord’s co-founders and they both shared their experiences during the New Hampshire Primary and the recent College Convention.


Smith noted that the first-in-the-nation caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire get a lot of attention every four years. “Voters in those states … have an outsized influence when it comes to talking to candidates,” he said.

That concentrated focus is helpful in Concord’s public education efforts, which includes encouraging voters to engage presidential candidates, he added. But Smith also said there is a lot going on around the entire country. He shared details on a recent Concord event in Minnesota with current and former members of Congress and the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. He also mentioned additional efforts by Concord’s Fiscal Lookouts in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Wyoming and more.

Bohm, a Fiscal Lookout in Virginia, shared what brought him into the Concord family: his past work on the Hill and connecting with the late, Democratic-Senator Paul Tsongas, one of Concord’s co-founders.

Bohm said that when Tsongas ran for president, he wanted to get at the heart of what is troubling the country now: “an out of control budget and inability to get to a level of fiscal parity to ensure the future of our country.”

Smith added that fiscal issues have been a higher priority in past presidential races. When you compare the 1992 campaign to 2016, he said we went from a plethora of candidates discussing these issues to a dearth of candidates.

“And the results are in the data when you look at what happened afterwards,” he said. “After ‘92, almost miraculous things happened … after 2016, it has been a nightmare … the worst instincts of Democrats, the worst instincts of Republicans have come together to give us these horrible, rising deficits.”

In 2020, Smith said candidates are making big promises; some are talking about ways to pay for them, but those plans are often insufficient, especially in addressing already-existing fiscal challenges.

Bohm said, “it has been a long slippery slope to today, where we find ourselves in a very drastic situation, where our failure to act is going to be generationally felt by the young people we are with at this conference.”

This problem is going to take time to solve, but policymakers are making counterproductive decisions today, he added.

Hear more on Facing the Future. I host the program each week on WKXL, (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, 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.

Next week, Facing the Future will once again be fielding your fiscal-policy related questions. We will dedicate the show to your thoughts and concerns, as well as suggestions on what topics we should cover in more detail in 2020.

Take a moment to share your questions on the show’s Facebook page (@FacingTheFuturePodcast), reach out via our website ( or email me directly ([email protected]).

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