Special to the Journal
I’m taking a rare but much needed day off. For your daily political reading I’m offering instead an Op-Ed written by my friend and recent candidate for Congress Martha Zoller. This marks Martha’s return to political media and addresses hope for a constructive solution to our nation’s debt crisis. I’ll return with normal programming on Monday. – Charlie Harper
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the debt as a share of our economy, our political leaders must fundamentally reform our entitlement programs, amend our outdated tax code and restructure the way we spend federal tax dollars.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?
Martha Zoller has been a syndicated radio talk show host, a bestselling author and columnist, and a frequent guest commentator on cable news programs.