Two important questions were asked at Tuesday night's presidential debate.
Fiora from Chicago asked: "What sacrifices will you ask every American to make to help restore the American dream and to get out of the economic morass that we're now in?"
Teresa Finch asked: "How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties got us into this global economic crisis?"
Both questions touched on the new political post-bailout reality: That is, White House hopefuls may promise Americans more government for lower taxes, but the next president is going to have to tell his party and American voters that they can't keep enjoying something for nothing. Or the next president will just dig the big hole deeper.
In answer to the question on sacrifice, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama berated President Bush for telling Americans, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, not how they must sacrifice, but instead to go out and shop. Then Obama failed to cite a single sacrifice he would suggest.
This is the closest Obama came to proposing that Americans give up anything: "There is going to be the need for each and every one of us to start thinking about how we use energy." He would not say that people actually need to cut back on their energy use, by, say, carpooling or taking transit. Nothing real.
Obama basically told Fiora: Go out and shop.
For his part, GOP presidential nominee John McCain did make it clear that Americans would have to sacrifice "some really good projects," as he would eliminate earmark spending, and not just for extravagant or wasteful pet-spending projects. Also, McCain proposed an across-the-board spending freeze on federal spending -- exempting defense, veterans affairs and some other federal expenses. McCain did tell voters that they would have to give up something -- not just think about it.
Some pundits have panned McCain's call for a commission to reform Social Security and Medicare spending as politically meek. Not fair. McCain bluntly stated during the debate, that reforms would mean, "we are not going to be able to provide the same benefit for present-day workers ... that present-day retirees have today."
Maybe "the old John McCain" would have said more, but the new Barack Obama never says anything people do not want to hear. He criticizes Bush for deficit spending -- then promises tax cuts for 95 percent of American households.