In a Sea of Deficits, the Candidates Are on Spending Autopilot
This Week with George Stephanopolous did a great little set-up piece this morning on the budget situation the two presidential candidates would face if elected.
In each of the debates, Senators McCain and Obama were asked what they would prioritize or cut given the large existing deficit and the weakening economy. Both largely refused to talk about scaling back their spending plans.
The ABC News piece says that Senator John McCain’s economic plan would “cost” $5.0 trillion dollars and Senator Obama’s $3.5 trillion over 10 years.
It’s difficult to find their source (happy to get more info in the comments, folks), but I suspect it’s this report from the Tax Policy Center. “Cost” is a little ambiguous: What it says is that their plans would increase the national debt by these amounts – about $40,000 (McCain) or $29,000 (Obama) per U.S. family.
Increases in debt are caused by either more spending or less revenue (that is, taxes). The report says “Obama would raise revenues by about $800 billion over the decade, while McCain would lose $600 billion.” That means higher taxes to the tune of about $6,400 per U.S. family under Obama’s plans over a ten-year period. McCain’s tax cuts would be a total of about $4,750 per U.S. family over ten years.
So, in summary, both candidates would increase the debt by increasing spending. Obama would increase the debt less because of higher taxes. McCain would increase the debt more by cutting taxes while increasing spending.
Which of these two choices do you prefer? (Maybe neither?)
The This Week piece also says the head of the Congressional Budget Office recently estimated the 2009 deficit at $750 billion. A group called the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says it’s more like $1 trillion. That’s between $7,700 and $10,250 per family in overspending just this year, even before either of the presidential candidates really gets to start in with their promised spending.
Both candidates are whispering sweet nothings about all the spending they’ll do, but that’s a bit of a siren song considering how much debt we’re swimming in.