Feb 06, 2016

Moderators, Ask These 5 Questions Tonight

Post by Derek Yale

Arlington, VA 
 With the national debt recently surpassing $19 trillion, out-of-control government spending is top-of-mind for the millions of Americans suffering under the sluggish U.S. economy.

Both parties routinely make vague promises to rein in spending, but Americans deserve specific policy prescriptions that will address this looming crisis. It’s important that we understand exactly what difficult decisions the 2016 presidential candidates will make on the key issues of spending and debt.

Here are 5 not-yet-asked spending questions moderators should ask on Saturday night:

  1. The cost of college has risen by over 1,000 percent since 1980. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have offered “free college” — paid for by taxpayers — as their solution, but that would destroy our budget and do nothing to address costs. How would you make college affordable, and would taxpayers have to pay for it?
  1. The latest Farm Bill in Congress authorized almost a trillion dollars in spending over the next decade. Would you continue to support the Farm Bill and agriculture subsidies in the White House?
  1. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Currently, 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the U.S., at a cost of over $30,000 taxpayer dollars per inmate per year. Do you think America is spending too much on non-violent offenders, and what criminal justice reforms would you support? 
  1. A new report out of the Pentagon warns that the military is risking wasting billions of dollars on F-35 fighter jets before they have demonstrated the vehicles are ready for combat. That’s just one example out of many reports that have emerged showing that there is rampant potential for waste at the Department of Defense. Do you acknowledge there is waste in the Defense Department and what would you do to eliminate it? 
  1. The latest CBO economic outlook indicates that Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will be exhausted by 2026, despite the fact that Medicare spending has increased dramatically. Politicians for over a decade have talked about changes to Medicare, such as raising the retirement age, premium support, or “means testing” as a way of reforming this insolvent program. As president, what would you advocate to reform Medicare?

Washington Spending Is Out Of Control…

The U.S. Is Projected To Reach Trillion-Dollar Deficits Again By 2022, Three Years Earlier Than CBO’s Estimate Released Just Five Months Ago. (“The Budget And Economic Outlook: 2016 To 2026,” CBO, 1/25/16; “An Update To The Budget And Economic Outlook: 2015 To 2025,” CBO, 8/25/15)

The Cumulative Deficit Over The Next Decade Is Now Projected To Be $1.5 Trillion Larger Than The Previous Estimate. “Over the 2016–2025 period (which was the 10-year projection period that CBO used last year), CBO now projects a cumulative deficit that is $1.5 trillion larger than the $7.0 trillion that the agency projected in August 2015.” (“Summary Of The Budget And Economic Outlook: 2016 To 2026,” CBO, 1/19/16)

The Projected Deficits Will Push The National Debt To Historic Levels, Which CBO Continues To Warn Would Result In “Serious Negative Consequences For The Budget And The Nation.” “The projected deficits would push debt held by the public up to 86 percent of GDP by the end of the 10-year period, a little more than twice the average over the past five decades. Beyond the 10-year period, if current laws remained in place, the pressures that had contributed to rising deficits during the baseline period would accelerate and push debt up even more sharply. Three decades from now, for instance, debt held by the public is projected to equal 155 percent of GDP, a higher percentage than any previously recorded in the United States. Such high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences for the budget and the nation …” (“Summary Of The Budget And Economic Outlook: 2016 To 2026,” CBO, 1/19/16)


…And It’s Only Getting Worse

Total Federal Debt Is Expected To Pass $29 Trillion In the Next Ten Years. (“The Budget And Economic Outlook: 2016 To 2026,” CBO, 1/25/16)

Federal Spending Is Projected To Increase Dramatically Over The Next Decade. (“The Budget And Economic Outlook: 2016 To 2026,” CBO, 1/25/16; “Historical Tables,” OMB, Accessed 2/3/16)

Each American Shoulders $80,000 Of Our National Debt

Each Person’s Share Of The Federal Debt Will Increase To More Than $80,000 In The Next Decade. (“The Budget And Economic Outlook: 2016 To 2026,” CBO, 1/25/16; “2014 National Population Projections,” U.S. Census Bureau, Accessed 2/3/16)

Our Economy Is Suffering Because Of Our Debt

Despite The Dramatic Increase In Spending Over The Past Seven Years, Economic Growth Has Been Significantly Lower Than The Growth CBO Projected Back In 2009. (“The Budget And Economic Outlook: An Update,” CBO, 8/25/09; “Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” BEA, Accessed 2/3/16)