1:40 pm Aug. 14, 2012
Representative Jerrold Nadler sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates today, requesting that the candidates not be asked specifically about the Simpson-Bowles plan in the October debate focused on economic issues.
“As you know, the Simpson-Bowles plan centers on reducing our national debt while doing little to nothing to help our other priorities, such as investments in infrastructure, education, research, and other areas necessary to promote future economic growth and national competitiveness,” reads the letter, which was sent jointly by Nadler and two of his Democratic colleagues, Mike Honda of California and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.
The letter came in response to another letter, sent by four senators--Joe Lieberman, Saxby Chambliss, Lindsey Graham and Mark Pryor--which asked the debate commission to specifically question the candidates on which of the Simpson-Bowles recommendations they would adopt to reduce the deficit.
Nadler, an unabashedly liberal congressman who believes in the stimulative economic effects of an active federal government, has questioned the wisdom of focusing on budget cuts during a recession. His letter echoes his prior calls to President Obama not to feed the Republican narrative that such cuts are immediately imperative.
"Forcing candidates to choose solutions from one menu of options – here, the Simpson-Bowles plan, which puts even more on the backs of the struggling middle class – would serve merely to cheapen the debate, thwart the candidates’ ability to explain alternative proposals to solving our fiscal crisis, and suggest to voters that only one plan exists to cure our fiscal ailments," Nadler and his colleagues write in the letter.
Here is the full text:
August 14, 2012
Frank J. Farenkopf, Jr. and Michael D. McCurry
Commission on Presidential Debates
1200 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
Dear Mr. Farenkopf and Mr. McCurry:
Recently, a group of Senators wrote to the Commission, requesting that the presidential candidates be asked which of the proposals contained in the plan produced by the chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, commonly referred to as the Simpson-Bowles plan, the candidate would implement if becoming president. The Simpson-Bowles plan may contain proposals helpful to our recovery, but to hold it out as the only pathway to fiscal responsibility and economic success is foolish and wrong. We urge the Commission to fight any effort to unnecessarily narrow such an important debate by placing disproportionate attention on one set of proposals over another.
Our country’s economic outlook remains at the forefront of voters’ minds, and it is critical that each candidate discuss what his plans to continue our economic recovery are if elected president. However, it also is critical that this complex and multifaceted issue not be unnecessarily narrowed by focusing merely on one possible plan to the exclusion of other viable solutions. Despite the urge to oversimplify our economic problems, and the misguided hope of some that the road to success runs magically through one plan, the candidates must be challenged to suggest solutions based on their values and vision for the future, not simply to choose a few ideas from one plan while ignoring other possibilities.
As you know, the Simpson-Bowles plan centers on reducing our national debt while doing little to nothing to help our other priorities, such as investments in infrastructure, education, research, and other areas necessary to promote future economic growth and national competitiveness. In addition, the Simpson-Bowles plan asks seniors, the middle class, and military personnel to sacrifice more, while those with the most are asked to do even less to help in our recovery. And Simpson-Bowles relies on arbitrary spending caps similar to those imposed in the Budget Control Act, which Democrats and Republicans alike are now trying to replace with a more intelligent and thoughtful approach.
Numerous ideas not included in the Simpson-Bowles plan have been proposed to address our long-term debt problem, our short-term jobs crisis, the need for fair tax proposals to ensure that those with the most pay their fair share, and the importance of honoring our promise to maintain and strengthen Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Voters deserve to know where the candidates stand on these issues, the solutions to which are simply absent from the Simpson-Bowles plan.
Forcing candidates to choose solutions from one menu of options – here, the Simpson-Bowles plan, which puts even more on the backs of the struggling middle class – would serve merely to cheapen the debate, thwart the candidates’ ability to explain alternative proposals to solving our fiscal crisis, and suggest to voters that only one plan exists to cure our fiscal ailments. We urge the Commission not to bias the debate by focusing on one particular set of proposals, but, instead, to put forward a series of presidential debates where the candidates can engage in a robust debate about their vision for the future free from steering by questioners.
Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to a thought-provoking series of debates.
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