Fiscal Lookouts

Blog Post
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

During Facing the Future, Concord Coalition National Field Director Phil Smith and three of Concord’s volunteer Fiscal Lookouts joined the program to discuss grassroots efforts in their respective states and their perspectives on federal fiscal policy.

Joe Spartz, a Fiscal Lookout in Minnesota, likened the lack of action on federal fiscal policy issues to a ship heading toward an iceberg. “If the country doesn’t change course, the fiscal situation is going to be sinking our economy,” he said. “That’s what motivates me to get involved.” 

But he also said that when he is talking to people about these issues, he tries not to be too heavy handed. If topics like tax cuts or spending programs come up in conversations, “I’m always the one to remind them, ‘how are we going to pay for that?’” Spartz wants people to understand the hard choices that are necessary to address the existing debt and growing deficits, as well as any new programs or initiatives. 

Brian Carter, a Lookout in Colorado and Wyoming, said that when we discuss fiscal policy, we are really talking about everything the government does, and most issues that people are passionate about can be related back to the budget. 

Because of growing deficits, Carter said, “At its core, we’re not actually feeling the full cost of the government as it is.” As a result, it is easy for voters and elected leaders to discuss tax cuts or spending plans disconnected from their actual cost or value. 

“I want to accomplish a higher level of awareness that ‘We the People’ are ultimately responsible for the issues and the results of the government,” he added. 

Tejas Vakil in Texas said,“The reason for concern is that the national debt has been growing out of control for the last couple of decades, and unfortunately right now the demographics of the country are moving in the wrong direction.” 

He expressed concern for the economy’s ability to grow fast enough to adapt to the aging of baby boomers and manage existing debt levels and the government’s ability to meet people’s needs in a fiscally sustainable manner.

Unless voters get passionate and serious about holding elected leaders accountable and call upon them to make engaging in reform a priority, little is likely to change, Vakil said.

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, 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.