Only One Week Left Until the Presidential Debates

The first presidential debate is now only one week away on October 3 at the University of Denver. With much of the first debate focusing on the economy, we look forward to hearing about how the candidates will tackle one of the most important economic issues: our rising debt.

Our 12 Principles of Fiscal Responsibility lay out what we expect from the candidates on fiscal issues. While we have no doubt that both candidates will claim that deficit reduction will be a priority of their presidencies, the candidates cannot rely on empty promises and budget gimmicks; rather, they need to propose measures that could realistically reduce the debt. If they adhere to the following 12 Principles, what the candidates propose in the debates could eventually become part of the framework for a bipartisan debt deal that looks at all parts of the budget. The principles are:

  1. Make Deficit Reduction a Top Priority.
  2. Propose Specific Fiscal Targets.
  3. Recommend Specific Policies to Achieve the Targets.
  4. Do No Harm.
  5. Use Honest Numbers and Avoid Budget Gimmicks.
  6. Do Not Perpetuate Budget Myths.
  7. Do Not Attack Someone Else’s Plan Without Putting Forward an Alternative.
  8. Refrain From Pledges That Take Policies Off the Table.
  9. Propose Specific Solutions for Social Security, Health Care Programs, and the Tax Code.
  10. Offer Solutions for Temporary and Expiring Policies.
  11. Encourage Congress to Come Up With a Budget Reform Plan as Quickly as Possible.
  12. Remain Open to Bipartisan Compromise.

To keep the conversation honest, we will be live tweeting from @BudgetHawks and also from @FixtheDebt on our reactions to the fiscal policy discussions as they come. The Fix the Debt team will also be traveling to Denver to make sure fiscal policy is part of the conversation and we hope to see some of our readers there.

Bringing both parties in Congress to the table will take great leadership, including from the executive branch. Moderator Jim Lehrer will likely be serving up many fiscal policy questions in the first debate, and considering the 180,000 plus people who have signed our Fix the Debt petition, that would be good news for citizens. We hope their answers follow our principles and provide a real discussion of policy, not politics, on the national stage.

A more detailed discussion of our 12 Principles on Fiscal Responsibility for the 2012 campaign can be found here.