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In deep sea of debt

Candidates mustn’t ignore issue by Sam T. Sicard Special to the Democrat-Gazette | February 27, 2016 at 2:21 a.m.

Our country is swimming in a sea of debt that is rising rapidly and unsustainably. If we don't act quickly to fix this problem, we will all drown in it.

But so far in the 2016 presidential campaign, candidates have failed to offer credible solutions to fix the debt.

All the candidates have acknowledged that our growing debt is a problem that should be addressed. But their actions haven't matched their words.

On the Republican side, for example, some candidates have offered tax plans that would add to the debt by substantially reducing tax revenue and worsen the country's fiscal condition. There is no doubt that we need pro-growth tax reform that creates jobs, makes the tax code simpler and fairer, and promotes competitiveness. But it should be structured in a way that does not reduce revenue and increase the severity of the fiscal challenges our country faces.

On the other hand, while the two Democratic candidates have outlined specific ways to pay for new spending initiatives, they haven't offered additional plans to address our current fiscal imbalance where annual deficits will begin increasing this year and every year thereafter, reaching nearly $1.4 trillion by 2026, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

These deficits--rising as far as the eye can see--will drive up the debt by more than $10 trillion over the next decade.

Failure to address our long-term debt will severely impact the economic well-being of Arkansans and all Americans. Interest rates will rise, and there will be fewer jobs and lower wages. In fact, according to the nonpartisan Campaign to Fix the Debt, a typical American will lose $250,000 in income over a 40-year career due to high national debt.

We know that the long-term driver of our debt is the growth of entitlement spending and interest payments. The CBO projects federal spending to rise by $2.7 trillion between 2015 and 2026, with three-fifths of that increase from Social Security and health care, and over one-fifth from interest.

It's time for presidential candidates to offer credible solutions to slow health-care cost growth, strengthen Social Security for future generations, and reduce our long-term debt so we can begin to reap the benefits of responsible debt reduction such as higher wages and faster job growth.

This is what our country needs. It's what our children deserve from us.

And as Arkansans prepare to vote in the Super Tuesday primary on March 1st, those are the solutions we should demand from the candidates.


Sam T. Sicard is the president and CEO of First National Bank of Fort Smith.

Editorial on 02/27/2016

Print Headline: In deep sea of debt


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