Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Fiscal Responsibility Questions For The Election

Aug 28, 2012 | Budgets & Projections

Considering our nation's debt situation, it is more important that ever to ensure that those seeking office have a plan to take on the issue. It's why we have urged debate moderators to ask serious questions about our fiscal problems in the debates this October with the Debate The Debt petition. But it's not all up to the moderators, because citizens can have a big impact on making candidates focus on the right kinds of questions in town hall meeting and along the campaign trail.

In that vein, yesterday Concord Coalition released its Key Questions Voters Should Ask Candidates About Our Nation’s Fiscal Future, a list of ten questions that specifically tackle the greatest fiscal challenges and solutions like Simpson-Bowles. The questions address all of the key components in a successful plan including tax reform, health care, and other entitlement programs.

Similarly, Comeback America Initiative also recently released its Serious Seven, a series of questions in their seven key areas the believe that policymakers will need to address in fiscal reform.

Both of these organizations' proposed questions directly line up with CRFB's core principles for the election season: 12 Principles of Fiscal Responsibility for the 2012 Campaign. In it we recommend that candidates avoid the use of budget myths and gimmicks, instead laying out plans that would target Social Security, health care, and tax reform using hard and honest numbers.

All the questions and principles are intended to be specific enough to discourage candidates from providing politically safe answers that avoid the messy details of deficit reduction. To make this election about the finding solutions to the challenges facing the country, it is critical that voters know where the candidates stand. No matter who is elected in November, they will all face a difficult road ahead. The more realistic a candidate's promises are and the less they lock themselves into unrealistic positions, the more successful they can be.

You can find a full list and explanation of CRFB's 12 Principles of Fiscal Responsibility here and Comeback America Initiative's Serious Seven here

A few of our favorites from Concord Coalition's Key Questions Voters Should Ask Candidates About Our Nation’s Fiscal Future are included below.

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  • Do you support the comprehensive approach that the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Simpson-Bowles) recommended and its $4 trillion deficit-reduction target? If not, what would your target be and which areas of the budget, if any, would you exempt from deficit-reduction efforts?
  • Could you identify some areas where you see particular opportunities for bipartisan cooperation on fiscal reform?
  • Members of Congress have been discussing the possibility of changes in the tax code that would eliminate many of the tax preferences that now favor specific categories of individual taxpayers, companies or industries. Would you support this approach and, if so, what are some examples of the tax preferences that you would support eliminating? Would you favor using the money it produced to lower overall tax rates, reduce deficits, or both?
  • What should be done to improve the U.S. health care system? If you oppose much or all of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) , what would you put in its place to improve health care quality, expand insurance coverage and curb the rapid rise in costs?
  • Do you believe Social Security reform is necessary and, if so, what changes would you support?
  • Addressing our $16 trillion national debt will require sacrifices from everyone. What specific examples of federal spending or tax provisions that benefit your state or district would you support eliminating or reducing?