Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No candor, no honesty = no mandate

The NYTimes' Jackie Calmes reports on the deficit of substantive spending reductions advocated by McCain and Obama:

Mr. McCain, the Republican nominee, has proposed bigger tax cuts. He has also promised more in spending cuts, but he has not specified where most of them would come from. Even now that the financial crisis has given rise to one bailout package and prompted both candidates to call for billions more in stimulus spending, Mr. McCain has stuck by his promise to balance the budget by the end of his term, a pledge that fiscal analysts call unachievable.

Mr. Obama, his Democratic rival, has vowed to reduce the deficit and put it on a path to balance. He also promises an expensive effort to make health care insurance more widely available, a raft of other spending programs and tax cuts for most families and small businesses. He would raise taxes on the wealthiest households to help pay for his health care plans.

Neither presidential candidate has provided enough detail, especially about spending programs and what they would cut, for budget groups to put price tags on their agendas.

The problem I see with this approach is that regardless of who wins... if they offer no details now on how they intend to balance the budget... they'll have no mandate. So in a sense, their mandate would be to continue our current fiscal policy of increasing spending and cutting taxes. And that's not going to close the gap of $53 trillion in unfunded long-term liabilities... and the failure to address that would be totally irresponsible.

Tim White

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