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A Question for Tonight's Debate

Both Obama and McCain have offered a tepid response to the difficult question of how they would manage the budget and our taxpayer dollars. It's time for them to answer.

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The final presidential debate takes place Wednesday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The prior two debates have lacked memorable moments and have left voters in the dark on one very important issue: fiscal restraint.


Bob Schieffer will moderate the event, which will focus on domestic issues. His job tonight should be to nail down the candidates on how they plan to pay for their respective proposals and what specific initiatives they would cut to ensure a better fiscal future for America.

Both candidates offered new revisions to their economic proposals this week. Clearly, the economy continues to weaken and measures must be taken. With the credit markets frozen, government action has to work to fix the crisis. The alternative would be a serious depression.

Thus, it's understandable that neither of the candidates budget for these short-term proposals intended to stimulate the economy. The massive rescue package for banks and an expected reduction in tax receipts would add to the deficit and the national debt.


Tax Policy Center

has studied the candidates' plans. They found that the both Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) would rack up major deficits. The Center writes:

"Although both candidates have at times stressed fiscal responsibility, their specific non-health tax proposals would reduce tax revenues by an estimated $4.2 trillion (McCain) and $2.9 trillion (Obama) over the next 10 years."

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Obama has pledged to institute pay-as-you-go spending if he were to win the presidency. He would then pay for all of his spending proposals with additional revenues. He has proposed about $800 billion in new spending, which would be paid for by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire and pulling our troops out of Iraq.

Obama stressed middle-class tax cuts and health care in the first debate:

"What I do is I close corporate loopholes, stop providing tax cuts to corporations that are shipping jobs overseas so that we're giving tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States. I make sure that we have a health care system that allows for everyone to have basic coverage. I think those are pretty important priorities. And I pay for every dime of it."

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His running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.), alluded to spending cuts on foreign aid during the VP debate.

"And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely," Obama also said in the first debate. Those are laudable phrases, but Obama has to explain why his numbers fail to balance, adding to a huge deficit.

McCain hasn't called for spending increases similar to Obama. Nevertheless, his tax cuts would severely decrease the amount of money the federal government receives in revenues, and he adds over trillion dollars more to the deficit than his opponent.

McCain also spoke strongly about spending controls in the debate planning on cutting spending earmarks by Congress and other excesses. He said:

"As president of the United States, I want to assure you, I've got a pen. This one's kind of old. I've got a pen, and I'm going to veto every single spending bill that comes across my desk. I will make them famous. You will know their names."

Controlling Congress would be a good start to stopping out-of-control spending.

However, the president normally proposes a budget. McCain has said he would freeze all spending across the board except for defense and for veterans. A report in

The Hill

contradicted his statment, however, when one of his advisors said science funding wouldn't face a cut.

McCain has promised to balance the budget by the end of his first year. But this would be impossible with the billions in new tax cuts and only a few cuts through earmarks.

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Sadly, the candidates have given insufficient answers about how they plan to spend our taxpayer dollars. In Wednesday's


, Bob Schieffer needs to get concrete explanations about what they plan to do with our money and how they would return fiscal sanity back to Washington.