I am a candidate in the May 15 Nebraska Republican Primary for U.S. Senate. The incumbent Deb Fischer is running for reelection. She is a nice lady and represents Nebraska well in many respects. For example she is on the Senate Agricultural Committee which is important to the Nebraska economy.
But there is one major way in which Fischer is falling down on the job. She is ignoring our enormous and out-of-control national debt. In fact she has voted twice recently to make the debt even worse than it already is. The new tax law increases debt by $1 trillion over the next ten years even after new growth is taken into account. The new budget deal could add an additional $2 trillion to the debt over the next decade. Fischer voted for both of these items. I want to emphasize as strongly as possible that this is why I am challenging her in the Republican Primary.
Of course, I have positions on other issues. For example, I have recently endorsed a ban on assault weapons. But for me there is a huge difference between fiscal and social issues:
- Our national debt, now 77% of GDP (for the public part on which we pay interest) is projected to reach 109% of GDP in just 10 years and to keep increasing way beyond that. As interest rates rise to more normal historical levels, interest payments on the debt will increase by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This will almost surely lead to a severe fiscal crisis in the relatively near future, causing huge damage to our economy, unless we make major changes in current policy.
- Social issues are much different. They will eventually get resolved through the normal political process. Mass shootings in the U.S., for example, are intolerable to an overwhelming majority of Americans. If the NRA continues to oppose sensible changes in gun regulations, then many of its Republican supporters will eventually be replaced by Democrats who will enact the needed changes.
Conclusion. Our rapidly growing national debt will lead fairly soon to an existential crisis if left unattended to. The problem of mass shootings (as an example of a festering social problem) will be resolved by normal political processes.
Again I appreciate your consistency; however I think the mass shootings is not a relevant comparison. The National Debt may well affect all of us in the quality of our lives. The killing of innocent people may well be resolved in some distant future. But the pain and suffering in the interim is most relevant. Addressing either one of them calls for evaluating and reassessing the political system itself, whether it be Citizens United or the broad construct of the way we keep our society so individualized in political and economic influence.
I agree with you that national debt and mass shootings are two very different types of problems. What I am saying is that the problem of mass shootings will be resolved through the political process because larger and larger majorities of Americans are insisting on effective action all the time. Something is going to happen on this problem soon.
Our debt problem will be much harder to solve through the political process because both Republicans and Democrats are very hesitant to take effective action, which means reforming entitlements.
I follow your argument. Now which entitlements would you favor in reducing?
Entitlements can be reformed without any reductions in benefits. Revenue can be increased by making them means adjusted (raising the income cap for SS and charging higher Medicare premiums for the wealthy). Health Savings Accounts for private healthcare and Medical Savings Accounts for Medicare will provide incentives for all of us to pay attention to routine healthcare costs.
Fair enough! I wish I felt that comfortable and confident that the wealthy would take the bigger responsibilities. Personally, I would like to see doctors agree to a ceiling on their income. For a profession with its intent to aid the sick and ailing, I would think such a donation would fall under the Hippocratic oath. And of course the profit makers to accept an oath of charity.
HSAs and MSAs would give all of us as individual healthcare consumers an incentive to pay attention to costs and therefore pay attention to what doctors are charging for their services and thus to change doctors if we think they are charging too much.