Washington Post Editorial: The dangerous myths at the heart of political parties’ fiscal policies

Today, the Washington Post editorial board offers an insightful commentary on the current fiscal debate playing out between both political parties, as represented by the Obama and Romney campaigns. The article argues that Republicans are not acknowledging the amount of revenue needed to fund levels of government that they believe to be necessary, while also noting that Democrats are not acknowledging what is needed to set Social Security and Medicare on firm financial footing.

When focusing on Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, they state:

The Romney-Ryan approach fails to acknowledge the level of revenue required to sustain even the smaller government the candidates envision. The population is aging, and even with entitlement reform, health-care costs will continue to grow. The world remains a dangerous place, which is why Mr. Romney says defense spending should consume 4 percent of gross domestic product. Yet the Congressional Budget Office has found Mr. Ryan’s plan would whittle spending on everything but Social Security, health programs and interest on the debt to less than that. The country cannot afford to continue all the Bush tax cuts, at a cost of some $5 trillion over the next decade, let alone pile on trillions more from Mr. Romney’s cuts.

And for the Democrats, they state:

The fundamental Democratic myth is that the country’s fiscal problems can be solved by focusing on, and asking for sacrifice from, only a tiny, vilified slice of the population: the wealthy. The central promise of President Obama’s 2008 campaign, reaffirmed in 2012, was that he would not raise taxes on the middle-class, defined as households earning less than $250,000 annually. At the same time, Democrats want voters to believe that Social Security and Medicare can be fixed, to the extend they need fixing, barely touching ever-rising benefits.

Overall, they conclude that "debt threatens the nation's prosperity and global standing." They are right. We need to pass a debt reduction plan and this election represents an opportunity to have an honest and open debate about what needs to happen. We need the candidates to debate the debt and present their own specific plans for how they would put debt on a downward path as a share of the economy. We have to fix out debt because solving it gets harder the longer we wait.