Zoller: Let’s Work Together to Fix the National Debt

October 18, 2012 11:00 am

by Charlie · 16 comments

The following is an Op-Ed written by Martha Zoller regarding the fiscal issues we face at the national level.  I’m glad to see here moving back into political media, and am happy to post her editorial here. – CBH

The hyperbole and media coverage before and after the presidential debates can make it difficult for voters to objectively analyze the candidates’ performances and their solutions or even to discern the most important issues. This year, however, it’s different. One issue in particular – America’s out-of-control national debt – should stand above all others as voters assess the candidates.

Currently at $16 trillion, and with no signs of slowing, our national debt is approximately the same size as our entire economy. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen has called the national debt “our biggest national security threat” because ballooning interest payments could make the military budget less predictable and flexible. In order to start shrinking the debt as a share of our economy, our political leaders must fundamentally reform our entitlement programs, amend our outdated tax code and restructure the way we spend federal tax dollars.

This skyrocketing, unchecked national debt poses many problems. Ever-increasing interest payments on the debt will slow economic growth, which will reduce our standard of living as well as our ability to create jobs and wealth for the next generations. On its current course, the debt will empty more and more resources out of the private sector and family pocketbooks; it will deny resources that should be available for businesses to expand, and it will make it more difficult for consumers to purchase new homes. In the long-run, our massive debt burden could cause an economic crisis.

However, that is just the long-term challenge. In the short-term, our political leaders must first deal with the “fiscal cliff” – a mix of expiring tax cuts as well as mandatory spending cuts to which Members of Congress agreed in an attempt to force a debt deal last year – which is looming on January 1. There is no doubt that going over the cliff would significantly reduce our national debt, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said it would also throw the nation back into recession, contracting the economy on an annual basis of 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013. What we need from our elected officials is to avoid the cliff while instituting a plan to bring down the debt over the long term with an approach that is balanced and gradual.

One way to implement such a plan is to build grassroots support to petition and lobby Congress, and that is what the Campaign to Fix the Debt is all about. Already more than 250,000 people from all around the country have come together to urge our elected leaders to address our long-term debt while steering us away from the fiscal cliff, ensuring that the economy can continue and build on its fledgling recovery.

The national debt is a complex issue that will require leaders from both parties to develop serious, long-term solutions. Our political leaders, however, need a push from you, the voters. Take note of what both presidential candidates say about the debt. Don’t accept political talking points during this campaign season. Demand that the problem be solved. Join the Campaign to Fix the Debt at FixtheDebt.org.

No matter which topic is most important to you, and no matter whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, there is really only one question you should be asking yourself as you listen to the candidates during the debates: How can our nation afford to face any of our other challenges if we don’t first address the national debt?

ryanhawk October 18, 2012 at 11:18 am

Sounds great. No way in hell it’s happening with Obama and a Republican Congress. Mitt Romney might be able to work with Congress to get it done, and the language FixTheDebt.org employees in discussing the longer term plan is precisely the language the Romney is using:

 Reform Medicare and Medicaid, improve efficiency in the overall health
care system, and limit future cost growth;
 Strengthen Social Security, so that it is solvent and will be there for future
beneficiaries; and
 Include comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the
base, lowers rates, raises revenues, and reduces the deficit.”

benevolus October 19, 2012 at 7:21 am

Where’s the “military spending cuts part”?

Patrick T. Malone October 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

Nice description of the problem but the proposed solution is a little naive – “a grassroots effort to petition Congress to steer away from the fiscal cliff and work on long term debt.” Surely we could come up with more specific proposals that not only identify the goal but also include specifics of how to get there.

griftdrift October 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

“with no signs of slowing,”

Factually inaccurate.

Oh

And didn’t we call this “American Solutions” when Newt Gingrich ran it four years ago?

No thanks. I already get enough emails.

ryanhawk October 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I don’t think so Grift…. This appears to be a strong bipartisan group. Bowles, Simpson, Gregg, Rendell, Fazio, Nunn, Zoellick…

http://www.fixthedebt.org/who-we-are

griftdrift October 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Actually a pretty impressive lineup. Obviously not the ego trip of one maniac. I stand corrected on that. But not on the deficit thing. Or the lack of need for more emails.

ryanhawk October 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I was surprised and skeptical too. Did a double take when I saw the lineup.

Buzz Brockway October 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm

While I was at the RNC Convention a couple of the members of this group held a press conference. I attended and it stuck me as a serious attempt to deal with the problem. Can they get anything accomplished? We’ll see.

Scott65 October 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

“The hyperbole and media coverage before and after the presidential debates can make it difficult for voters to objectively analyze the candidates’ performances and their solutions or even to discern the most important issues. ” Thats kinda funny coming from Martha Zoller since she would be one of the principles spewing hyperbole and misinformation on talk radio. Yes the national debt is a long term. It is NOT a short term problem. Its almost comical that the same people who say the government doesn’t create jobs are the same ones who say that if the government cuts defense spending it costs…wait for it…JOBS! So come on people which is it??? This is not a short term problem. The only reason the public has it on the radar screen is because people who know better have tried to use it for political gain. We need to be investing in people and infrastructure NOW while money is cheap…if we dont do it now…then when? Thats right, we’ll all be better off for throwing 650,000 Georgians off medicaid. Short sighted vs long term is a big problem in this country. There are no short term budget fixes. GROWTH is what fixes debt. Growth not paid for on the backs of the poor and middle class. Growth not on the backs of people who dont have the money to fight and die of cancer because some company puts toxic sludge in rivers they live next to because we have “too much regulation” and need to eliminate the EPA or the FDA or other agencies that protect us all but eat into those hefty profits that go to “job creators”. If Martha wants to view the real world with the rest of us…I’d welcome that. There is a real world out there that lots of you are fortunate enough to be insulated from…me, not so much sometimes. Its easy to say we need to cut spending…but 2 trillion dollars to defense that wasn’t asked for when you are denying the working poor basic medical care is not going to do any good Christian any favors when it is their time to be judged (take that Ralph Reed!)

Scott65 October 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm

let the flaming begin

Calypso October 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Paragraphs are your friend. Well, they would be if you used them.

Scott65 October 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm

yeah…suppose you are right, but without a MODIFY button, its hard to think about paragraphs mid-rant.

Calypso October 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm

BRING BACK THE MODIFY please.

saltycracker October 18, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Never let a crisis (cliff) go to waste.
There is no evidence of a real desire to address the debt and spending. The closest is Romney wanting to limit spemding to 20% GDP and cutting deductions to a % of income. Both sides probably prefer we go over the cliff and they will rush in to save the day claiming the other caused the damage.

We have passed trillions around, cut interest on debt to insane low levels, devalued the dollar and turned a blind eye to rampant fraud in government programs while having little to show for it.

Put a few hundred thou in any checking account and you’d feel pretty good until payback day. But according to the demos we can go on for years…….it isn’t over until it is over.

saltycracker October 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Found a clip of a bipartisan team working on the problem.
If we start toward the cliff 1500 days/feet from the edge can we stop after running full speed for 97% or more of the distance or under 45 foot:days out ?
Obama the driver says no need, it is for the greater good.

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=iUy_61hkGPM&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DiUy_61hkGPM

Dave Bearse October 22, 2012 at 9:10 am

It’s best to keep GOP talk of a solution to the the national debt inside the bubble until after the election, Martha. Deficit tlak only reminds voters that lowering taxes for the rich, starting multiple wars, and establishing massive new entitlements are what the GOP does when a budget is balanced.

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