The National Debt Must Be A Priority For The Next President

No matter how difficult the conversation, the national debt needs to be a top priority in the 2016 presidential election, and the next president needs to have a clear plan to bring down the debt in the coming years. Former Senators Judd Gregg and Evan Bayh explained this in an op-ed in Roll Call on Monday while promoting First Budget, an initiative committed to bringing the debt into the spotlight for the 2016 presidential primaries and demanding a debt plan from presidential candidates.

The Senators know how difficult it can be for politicians to discuss tough issues, writing:

As former — and maybe reformed — elected officials, we know how much politicians like to talk about good news: tax breaks, infrastructure improvements, job growth announcements.

But they are far less interested in talking about the bad news and hard choices on the horizon as the federal debt continues on an unsustainable upward path.

Politicians don’t see big constituencies for that kind of news, and no special interests score them on whether they discuss it with voters. Even the close cousin of bad news — blunt talk — is usually avoided in politics.

Yet, politicians and voters alike should understand sacrifices will be necessary in the years ahead as an aging population, rising health care costs and a deeply flawed tax system put more and more pressure on the federal budget.

Having gone through elections themselves, the Senators understand how difficult it can be to tell voters bad news, but they know that the debt is something that voters need to hear about. The Senators recognized First Budget for its work to bring attention to our debt problem, saying:

The Concord Coalition and the Campaign to Fix the Debt have come together to raise the issue during the 2016 presidential campaign under the nonpartisan label of “First Budget.” Concord and Fix the Debt have long been committed to fiscal responsibility, regardless of party affiliation.

Unless candidates for president are pressured, they’d rather not focus on the bad news about the national debt. But we will be in Iowa and New Hampshire with citizen activists engaging candidates on the subject. Congress has not been interested in addressing the issues, and it is critical that the next president comes into office with a budget plan that reflects the reality of the situation.

We wrote about the launch of First Budget, led by our partners at Fix The Debt and by the Concord Coalition. First Budget's mission is to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the nation’s unsustainable fiscal policies and make solving this problem a high priority for the 2016 presidential candidates, starting with the early nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. First Budget also calls for candidates to present a clear plan for their first presidential budget proposal that will reduce the debt within their first term. You can read the full op-ed here and read more about First Budget on its website.