Our View

“Any ambitious plans to increase spending or cut taxes must account for the fact that our nation’s budget is on an unsustainable path.”

That recent warning from the Concord Coalition was aimed at each of the 2020 presidential candidates, liberal and conservative.

But it has less value for them and their castles-built-on-sand promises than it does for us — the voters who will inherit the bill for any expanded programs and/or tax cuts.

Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, accompanied his warning with this statement: “The last thing they (candidates) should be doing is pursuing new policies without credible plans to pay for them.”

Can we get an “Amen”?

Credible requires that voters no longer take politicians at their word when they promise us tax cuts that pay for themselves or when they brag that they can wipe away decades of debt in just two terms, or that we can all have some form of universal health care with the elimination of all college debt thrown in for good measure. 

There’s plenty of blame to share across the political spectrum, but credible means holding not just our politicians accountable, but ourselves as well. The blame for the $22 trillion hole the country finds itself in rests squarely on the shoulders of the American people, who want their taxes cut but want to keep and expand social programs.

Of that $22 trillion national debt, $16 trillion is held by the “public,” which is what our government (us) owes to outside creditors including those who purchase government bonds, and $6 trillion is in what is known as “intragovernmental debt,” which is what our government (us, again) owes to future generations, such as the money borrowed from the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

The Concord Coalition warns: “Such high levels of public debt would reduce national savings and income, hurt economic growth, increase interest costs for businesses and the government itself, put increasing pressure on important federal programs, and limit the nation’s ability to respond to new and unforeseen challenges.”

It’s up to us to hold politicians accountable, so remember the Concord Coalition warning every time you watch a debate or a political rally or listen to or read a speech. Better yet, make a copy of the warning and staple that copy to your voter ID card. That way you’ll be sure to see it at the polls, too.

“Any ambitious plans to increase spending or cut taxes must account for the fact that our nation’s budget is on an unsustainable path.”