“Political campaigns are the ideal time to question candidates. Well-informed voters can use these exchanges to find out where candidates really stand and to let the candidates know what they think. But many politicians have a tendency to gloss over tough issues, minimize problems and offer easy-sounding solutions instead of giving detailed, specific answers. While there is no single correct answer to any of the questions, these issues need to be debated on the campaign trail. Concord's key questions provide a framework for ensuring that candidates address some of the toughest choices they will face about the budget, Social Security and Medicare if they're elected,” said Executive Director Robert Bixby. The key questions are as follows:
- Some people in Washington are predicting that the government will have budget surpluses “as far as the eye can see.” Do you believe it is fiscally responsible to enact new spending initiatives or reduce taxes based on the assumption that these projected surpluses will actually materialize?
- There has been a lot of talk about budget surpluses, yet the national debt continues to increase. Is debt reduction a priority for you and if so, how would you balance debt reduction against your other priorities?
- Social Security will begin spending more than it collects in taxes by about 2015. After that, Social Security will run growing annual cash deficits exceeding $1 trillion a year by the time the baby boomers have retired in the 2030s. How do you propose to reduce this financial burden on future taxpayers while at the same time protecting the retirement security of future beneficiaries?
- What role, if any, do you believe that non-Social Security revenue (i.e., general revenue) should play in addressing the program's long-term challenges?
- Some people suggest that the current Social Security system could be improved by allowing, or requiring, workers to save a portion of their payroll contributions in individually-owned retirement accounts. Do you believe that such accounts should be part of a comprehensive Social Security reform plan?
- There is a growing bipartisan consensus that a prescription drug benefit should be added to Medicare. But Medicare's costs are already projected to double over the next 10 years, even before most of the huge baby boom generation qualifies for benefits. If you agree that a prescription drug benefit should be added to the program, how do you propose to fund it?
The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grass roots organization dedicated to balanced federal budgets and generationally responsible fiscal policy. Former U.S. Senators Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) and Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) serve as Concord's co-chairs and former Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson serves as president. The organization does not endorse, support or oppose candidates for public office or political parties.