Presidential Candidates Ought to Share Their Plans for the Debt

For Immediate Release

The first of three presidential debates will take place tonight, with much of the focus on near-term issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession. To this point, neither candidate has proposed a plan for one of our most serious long-term challenges: the national debt. Below is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

The national debt is headed into truly unprecedented and risky territory, projected to exceed the size of the economy next year and set a new record as a percentage of GDP by 2023. Addressing the pandemic and the devastation it has caused remains the top priority right now, but whomever is inaugurated in January must also be prepared to tackle our fiscal challenges once the crisis is over and explain to the American people how they’ll do it.

One big reason that our debt is on such an unsustainable path is that lawmakers wasted a period of economic growth by passing unpaid for tax cuts and spending increases. Rather than getting our fiscal house in order so we would’ve been better prepared to respond to a national emergency, we entered this crisis already facing trillion-dollar deficits.

While the large amount of borrowing for COVID relief has been necessary, it would be inexcusable to continue high rates of borrowing once the economy is stable and the pandemic has been addressed.

If the candidates aren’t asked about the debt during these debates, it is imperative they raise the issue themselves. We need a president who understands that the debt, if left unaddressed, will slow economic growth, lower incomes, and increase the risk of a fiscal crisis that hampers future generations.


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