The next Congress will face difficult budget issues, ranging from the pending insolvency of the trust fund for Social Security disability insurance to proposals to overhaul the inefficient tax code.
Yet many candidates for federal office this year — Democrats, Republicans, incumbents and challengers — have failed to explain their budget policies. In many cases, voters have little assurance that the candidates even understand the country’s basic fiscal and economic challenges.
“Fiscal issues have not been a major part of this year’s campaign,” Robert Bixby, executive director of The Concord Coalition, told Market News International recently. “If you want to be cynical, you could say that this has at least prevented each party from staking out irresponsible positions that would be difficult to retreat from after the election.”
Voters expect more. A poll released last week by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation found that 82 percent of the respondents said the long-term federal debt was an important factor for them in this election.
Bixby points out that the lack of discussion and debate on budget issues will leave the winners without any fiscal mandate for governing.
Concord this fall released an updated version of its “Key Questions” that candidates for federal office should address. It includes extensive budget information that should remain useful in the coming year on topics that include defense spending, entitlement programs, health care and tax policies.
Fiscal Debate Silent on Campaign Trail (Market News International)
Key Questions for Candidates (Concord Coalition)
More Than 80 Percent of Americans Say Debt Is Important Factor in Election (Peterson Foundation)