Originally posted February 11, 2015.
Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner writes, “With our national debt now passing the $18 trillion mark, and rising at the rate of $40 to $50 billion per month, it is worth taking a look at where the putative Republican presidential candidates stand on the question.”
From Jeb Bush to Rick Perry, Mr. Tanner lists the potential candidates and explains the clues and hints each has given as to where the national debt stands in their priorities and what they might do about it. Read more here.
Here is a sample:
Jeb Bush: Bush is a prime example of a candidate who has not yet put together specific budget and debt proposals.So far, he has been vague, but generally said the right things, arguing that our current entitlement programs are “unsustainable.” Among the changes he suggests are “raising the retirement age to reflect the life-expectancy increase that’s been dramatic, means-testing some of the entitlement programs over time. We have to reform health care underneath the entitlement system as well, so that the cost curve is dealt with, which means we should move toward catastrophic coverage as the form of insurance.” On the other hand, he has suggested that he would be open to tax hikes in exchange for spending cuts. “If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we’re going to have $10 in spending cuts for $1 of revenue enhancement — put me in, coach,” Bush told the House Budget Committee in 2012. However, Bush’s tenure as governor raised some concerns. Although he generally earned A’s and B’s on Cato’s fiscal scorecard for governors, he had fallen to a C by the end of his second term. Chris Edwards, Cato’s fiscal analyst, has noted that “Jeb Bush was a prolific tax cutter, but he let spending rise quickly toward the end of his tenure. . . . Jeb was good on taxes, but apparently not so good on spending.”
Rand Paul: Although Paul has attracted more publicity about his libertarian positions on civil liberties and foreign policy, he has actually been among the Senate’s biggest deficit hawks, warning, “I truly believe that the number-one threat to our national security is our debt.” He opposed the Ryan budget, claiming it did not go far enough. Instead, he introduced his own budget proposal, which would have balanced in just five years, and which entailed massive spending cuts. That budget illustrated both the promise and the perils of a Paul candidacy. It was a true fiscally conservative road map toward less spending and smaller government, perhaps the most aggressive such proposal in decades, but it attracted just 18 votes in the Senate. Paul backs a premium-support plan for Medicare and the block-granting of Medicaid to the states. Surprisingly, however, he has not backed personal accounts for Social Security, calling instead for more traditional benefit reductions such as means testing and raising the retirement age.