At the recent candidate forum in Anderson, I posed the following question: “Do you have any concern at all about the federal deficit, and if so, how would you address that concern?” While both candidates said they indeed had big concerns, their follow-up answers left me deeply disappointed. Here’s why.
Congressman LaMalfa started by saying, “Don’t spend more than you take in,” which I like but evades the question, namely, how would you do this? His most considered comment was, “The strong economy is going to help us get out of this.” That is, growth would answer the deficit problem. Yet since Q2 of 2014, the U.S. economy has registered continuous growth, and expanded at an average annual growth rate of 2.2% between 2012 and 2017. Current conditions show a stock market at record highs along with other positive economic signs. Yet three days before this forum, Bloomberg reported a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report upping this year’s deficit, and projecting federal deficits at $1 trillion per year well into the future. Taken together with the information above, the CBO seems to be saying, “No, growth alone is not going to solve this problem.”
Candidate Denney focused on restoring fairness to the tax code, and on the potential revenue reduction that the 2017 tax reform bill may cause. Since we had deficits without tax reform well back into the last century, this answer really doesn’t get to the issue.
A proper answer would include acknowledging the huge difference (17%) between federal spending and federal income, the difficulty in solving the problem (60-year track record), and then specific proposals with a timeframe. While I realize the time limitations in a candidate forum may prevent an answer such as this, perhaps one or both candidates could use this space to share an actual plan. This would be of great help to voters on this issue.
Note: Candidates’ actual answers are the 41;25 mark here.