Deficits do matter. Projections show risks to the economy, an extra “debt tax” on every taxpayer, and highlight the weakened ability of the federal government to invest in the future or respond to unforeseen emergencies. Cutting fraud, waste, and abuse, curbing earmarks, raising taxes on the very wealthy, or streamlining the staffing of the federal government is simply not enough to solve the problem.
The next President should not be expected to immediately provide detailed blueprints for reducing the deficit. However, all candidates can and should do the following:
- state unequivocally that deficits do matter
- commit to restore fiscal balance over a reasonable time period, such as five years, and to put the nation on a sustainable fiscal course by reforming entitlements as soon as possible
- pledge to work in a bipartisan way to achieve this objective
- put all issues and options on the table: entitlements, revenues, defense, and all other spending categories
- outline the spending cuts and revenue increases needed to achieve short-term fiscal objectives and the changes needed in Social Security and Medicare to maintain long-term fiscal discipline
- be candid with the American people about the nature and magnitude of the challenge, acknowledging that the problem cannot be solved simply by cutting fraud, waste, and abuse, curbing earmarks, raising taxes on the very wealthy, or streamlining government
- propose reforms to the budget process without assuming that these alone will be sufficient to restore fiscal balance
Opportunity 08 aims to help 2008 presidential candidates and the public focus on critical issues facing the nation, presenting policy ideas on a wide array of domestic and foreign policy questions. The project is committed to providing both independent policy solutions and background material on issues of concern to voters.