Questions the GOP Must Explain

Carol Platt Liebau

2/5/2013 8:01:59 PM - Carol Platt Liebau

Paul Ryan is, of course, right -- spending is unsustainable and the USA is on an economic collision course unless some serious changes are made.  But if the GOP wants the public to understand what's at stake, they need to do better at explaining the problem than press releases like this

WASHINGTON—Today, the Congressional Budget Office released its Budget and Economic Outlook, which projected an $845 billion deficit for fiscal year 2013. In response, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin issued the following statement:

“The CBO’s report is yet another warning that we need to get spending under control. The deficit is still unsustainable. By 2023, our national debt will hit $26 trillion. We can’t let that happen. We need to budget responsibly, so we can keep our commitments and expand opportunity.

“Unfortunately, the President has yet to produce a budget—in violation of federal law. And Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in nearly four years.

“This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s math. Unless the President and the Senate offer a credible plan to close the deficit, we will have a debt crisis—and the country will suffer.

“House Republicans have offered their solutions. Now the President and Senate Democrats must do the same.”

I love Paul Ryan.  I would like to see him become President.  But if he -- or any other Republican -- is going to win the argument on government spending, their communications have to explain the following:

1. WHY is the deficit "unsustainable"?

2. WHY does it matter whether the national debt hits $26 trillion (or $26 zillion, for that matter)?

3. HOW does responsible budgeting let us "expand opportunity"?

4. WHY will a debt crisis arise, and if one does, WHY will the country "suffer"?

Normal people, busy with their lives, do not necessarily understand these things.  Older ones recall that Ross Perot was throwing a fit about the deficit in 1992 and -- poof! -- eight years later, problem was solved, there was a surplus.  Why can't that happen again?

There are succinct ways to make our case.  But we need to do it.  Otherwise, a very sincere and important commitment to cutting spending comes across as little more than partisan political gamesmanship.  People who do not live inside the world of economic policy really aren't clear on how these issues are relevant to them and their children.

If the GOP wants their support, they have to present issues in a way that makes them relevant -- and then explain why Republican solutions are the best way to solve the poblem.