Tonight's topic is domestic policy. Domestic policy -- other than the predictable bickering over the Patriot Act, whether it has been applied properly and whether it should be expanded – boils down to two things: taxes and spending.
Most analyses of what President Bush and John Kerry have said about it conclude that Bush would tax less and spend less and that Kerry would tax more (at least in the upper income brackets) and spend more. But neither has outlined a credible way for paying for what he promises.
The Concord Coalition, which describes itself as a "nonpartisan, grassroots organization advocating fiscal responsibility while ensuring Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are secure for all generations," suggests some questions the candidates should be required to answer:
1. Do you believe that large, sustained budget deficits pose a threat to our nation's economic future?
2. Do you believe that Congress and the President should agree to a new multi-year plan to balance the budget, and if so should that plan exclude the Social Security surplus?
3. What specific spending cuts would you propose to help balance the budget?
4. The tax cuts passed since 2001 are set to expire at different times over the next seven years. Do you believe they should be extended permanently, or should all or some of them be allowed to lapse?
Here's a link to a PDF that gives Concord's explanations of why these questiions matter.