“Political campaigns are the ideal time to question candidates. Well-informed voters can use these exchanges to find out where candidates really stand and to let the candidates know what they think. But many politicians have a tendency to gloss over tough issues, minimize problems and offer easy-sounding solutions instead of giving detailed, specific answers. While there is no single correct answer to any of the questions, these issues need to be debated on the campaign trail. Concord's key questions provide a framework for ensuring that candidates address some of the toughest choices they will face about the budget, Social Security and Medicare if they're elected,” said Executive Director Robert Bixby. The key questions are as follows:
1. Some people in Washington are predicting that the government will have budget surpluses “as far as the eye can see.” Do you believe it is fiscally responsible to enact new spending initiatives or reduce taxes based on the assumption that these projected surpluses will actually materialize?
2. There has been a lot of talk about back-to-back budget surpluses in 1998 and 1999, yet the national debt continues to increase. Is debt reduction a priority for you and if so, how would you balance debt reduction against your other priorities?
3. Social Security will begin spending more than it collects in taxes by about 2014. After that, Social Security will run growing annual cash deficits exceeding $1 trillion a year by the time the baby boomers have retired in the 2030s. How do you propose to reduce this financial burden on future taxpayers while at the same time protecting the retirement security of future beneficiaries?
4. Some people suggest that the current Social Security system could be improved by allowing, or requiring, workers to save a portion of their payroll contributions in individually owned retirement accounts. Do you believe that such accounts should be part of a comprehensive Social Security reform plan?
5. There is a growing bipartisan consensus that a prescription drug benefit should be added to Medicare. But Medicare's costs are already projected to double over the next 10 years, even before most of the huge baby boom generation qualifies for benefits. If you agree that a prescription drug benefit should be added to the program, how do you propose to fund it?
The Concord Coalition was founded in 1992 by former Senator Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), the late Paul Tsongas, former Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, and former Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson. Former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) joined Rudman as co-chair of the organization in 1997. The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan, grass roots organization dedicated to balanced federal budgets and generationally responsible fiscal policy. The organization does not endorse, support or oppose candidates for public office or political parties.