A Bipartisan Call To Debate the Debt

Today Campaign to Fix the Debt co-chairs Judd Gregg and Ed Rendell were joined by Purple Nation founders Michael Steele and Lanny Davis in a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates calling for the two candidates to "Debate the Debt" during one of the presidential debates this fall. In the letter, they reiterated how important this issue was to the country, proposing three detailed questions for the debates on what specific steps the candidates would take to reduce the debt by $4 trillion over the next ten years, what recommendations from Simpson-Bowles they would support, and which ones they did not support and why.

We are writing as Democrats and Republicans, liberal and conservatives, not only to support this focus on the national debt during one of the three debates, but also, to ask the Debate Commission to require the presidential candidates to offer specific, documented, and comprehensive solutions to this critical issue.  

We recognize that some of us are supporting President Obama for reelection and some Governor Romney to replace him. Many of us disagree on a variety of issues. But we all agree on one thing:  The $16 trillion national debt, which is growing at an unsustainable pace, is “one of the great moral issues and threats facing our nation.”

Their call came on the heels of another letter from a bipartisan group of senators including Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), who yesterday wrote to the Commission also asking for a discussion on debt reduction. The letter calls on the commission to ask the candidates to address specific policies in an effort to reach national consensus:

Specifically, we request that you ask the presidential candidates which of the recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform they would adopt as part of their plan to reduce the deficit. As part of this discussion, we believe that it would be essential to engage the candidates in a detailed discussion of their priorities for tax and entitlement reform.

“We hope that such a debate would begin a national discussion that results in a consensus that both of our major national parties can endorse to reduce the deficit and place our nation’s economy on a path to future growth.”

With fiscal policy being a pressing issue, we need the presidential candidates to address the issue on this stage. There might be some temptation to avoid the details about the decisions that need to be made on this issue, as there are no easy fixes. But we cannot continue to kick the can down the road. No matter who is elected in November, they should come in with a plan.

Sign the petition at www.debatethedebt.org and join the leaders calling for a national conversation on how we should put the country on a better fiscal path. The letters to the Commission can be found here and here.