As a citizen, voter, and spectator to the 2012 congressional and presidential elections I’m shocked and appalled by the lack of substance conveyed by the candidates. Language is used to evade questions intended to draw out substantive responses. Since running for elected office is analogous to applying for a job, I thought to myself, “What would be the one question I would require every candidate for national office to answer?”
A word of caution as my question isn’t nearly as brilliant or insightful as the one asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos about contraception. Nor is my question asked to uncover intimate and personal details of a candidate’s marriage. Unfortunately, the main stream media would consider my question shallow and contemptuous; beneath the dignity of a candidate for president much less the current president. Sadly, but without remorse, my career aspirations as a journalist for ABC or CNN vanish before my eyes. But I digress.
Government revenues in 2011 were roughly $2.2 trillion.
Government spending falls into one of three buckets: $2.4 trillion for entitlement programs and debt service, $891 billion for non-discretionary military, and $496 billion for discretionary spending.
Assuming you had the power to enact all the changes necessary to balance the budget my question is:
Over what period of time and exactly how much will you cut from each of those three buckets to balance the budget?
Most of the Republican presidential candidates have no intention of cutting non-discretionary military spending. Assuming every candidate eliminated all $496 billion of discretionary spending a $1.091 trillion deficit remains. To be generous let’s assume federal revenues increase by $400 billion. The deficit would stand at $691 billion. Over ten years the debt would grow from $16.2 trillion to $23.2 trillion. Living on a lunar colony is looking better by the day.
I’ve asked this question to Republican congressional candidates and not a single one has provided a sufficient answer. In fact, not a single candidate has yet to provide a solution. The question was posed under ideal conditions that the candidate had all the power to enact changes before factoring in the two party system, ideology, special interests, power struggles, and back room deals.
Voters in the 2012 election should set their expectations accordingly. The simple truth is there isn’t a single Republican or Democrat candidate that will address this problem. Both parties benefit from the status quo and have no intention of committing political suicide by making the necessary, difficult decisions required to balance the budget within a year or two much less four or five years.
This is our stark reality. It is surreal. My question to you is what are you going to do about it? Are you going to vote for the status quo? Are you going to vote for a candidate that will increase the debt by $4 trillion over four years instead of staying with the incumbent President and incurring perhaps $6 trillion or more over the next four years?
As the ruling class fights in the sand box like petulant children it is we the people that will feel the onslaught from economic Armageddon. The change I’ve been hoping for is in we the people. The one question for the voters is will you continue to vote for the status quo?