Scarce details on cuts promised by candidates

October 20, 2010

With federal spending and deficits soaring – and the elections looming –promises of “fiscal austerity” have become a de rigueur talking point in every candidate’s stump speech.

Finally! Candidates for — and even incumbent Members of — Congress are so fired up about getting federal spending under control they’re yelling it from the rooftops!

Oh but wait. When it comes to enumerating how they plan achieve this goal…well, let’s just say few on either side are talking.

Today’s New York Times puts the spotlight squarely on the GOP, highlighting the dearth of specifics in their plans for spending reductions. The following is an excerpt; please click on the link above to read the entire article:

If there is a single message unifying Republican candidates this year, it is a call to grab hold of the federal checkbook, slam it closed and begin to slash spending. To bolster their case that action is needed, Republicans are citing major legislation over the four years that Democrats have controlled Congress, notably the financial system bailout, the economic stimulus and the new health care law.

But while polls show that the Republicans’ message is succeeding politically, Republican candidates and party leaders are offering few specifics about how they would tackle the nation’s $13.7 trillion debt, and budget analysts said the party was glossing over the difficulty of carrying out its ideas….

“It’s very easy in the course of a campaign to run against deficit spending as this abstract monster, but when you are actually in power, you have to propose actual policies and follow through on them and that’s something they are much less willing to do,” said John Irons, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning Washington research group.

“Everyone is saying there’s hard choices, there are tough decisions to be made, but not one is actually telling the voters how they would make those tradeoffs,” Mr. Irons said. “No one is saying, ‘Here’s what I would cut.’

Regardless of the outcomes of the November elections, Americans must hold to his or her word every candidate who promised spending control. From the pitch and pervasiveness of the commitments from both sides, that should mean we’d begin to see real, significant steps to get – and keep – control of reckless overspending from the moment Congress returns. We’ll certainly be watching.

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