Sanford Says Candidates Aren't Talking About Debt, Deficit

Congressman Mark Sanford (R-SC) wrote a piece in The Fiscal Times that highlights the paucity of substantive discussion from the 2016 presidential candidates on the debt, deficit, and government spending. As he says:

There have been debates, bluster, TV coverage, and more, but you know what’s been lacking in this Presidential race…a serious discussion of the debt, deficit, and government spending. It’s been skipped, and the degree to which this issue is not in vogue these days fits with what I have seen since I came back to the US Congress two and a half years ago.

Candidates have been asked about this issue on the campaign trail, several have sat for a thirty-minute television interview on Fiscal Fridays to discuss their positions on fiscal responsibility, and the debate moderators have been asking tough questions about balanced budgets, entitlement reforms, and fiscally-sound tax proposals. 

While the issue should be receiving much broader attention from the candidates, as Sanford notes, “[t]his one issue falls into the category of near radio silence.”

Just last night in the sixth GOP debate, moderator Maria Bartiromo asked the candidates how they would reform entitlement programs. Instead of answering the question, the conversation shifted into a discussion about whether a certain tax plan was a Value-Added Tax (VAT). At the end of the tax colloquy, Governor Chris Christie chimed in to explain his entitlement reform proposal and said that “the reason no one wants to answer entitlements up here is because it’s hard. It’s a hard problem.”

Governor Christie and Congressman Sanford are right. This is a hard problem, but it’s one that we still have time to address. However if we do not soon address the debt and deficits, as well as their key drivers, we will be facing harsh consequences for years to come. As Congressman Sanford said,

In just ten years, there will only be enough money coming into the federal government to pay for interest and entitlements…and nothing else. This is not in our grandkid’s time, it’s in the next President’s time that the consequences of this financial reality begin to really come home. It will mean dire things for interest rates, inflation, and the value of the dollar…and by extension the value of all you possess and plan to retire on.

We applaud Congressman Sanford for drawing attention to the fact that those seeking higher public office should be addressing the nation’s growing debt. We also encourage the candidates to take the opportunity over the next several weeks and months to explain to the American people how they will reform government spending and bring our debt under control.