Democratic United States Senate candidate Bob Kerrey today questioned Republican Deb Fischer’s budget pledge.
Fischer advocates reducing federal spending to 18% of the Gross Domestic Product. She argues that a growing economy will produce enough revenue to avoid increasing taxes.
Kerrey contended Fischer has promised to cut spending while telling various special interest groups not to worry about cuts.
“So, you can’t say you’re for spending levels of 18% and then keep spending more than 18% in order to win favor of one interest group or another, in this particular case the (U.S.) Chamber of Commerce, saying, ‘I’m going to cut your taxes as well,’” Kerrey told reporters after a visit to the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln. “We’ve already got a problem of a 9% gap of revenue and spending and she’ll make the problem worse.”
Kerrey referred to the United States Chamber of Commerce endorsement of Fischer this week.
Kerrey has been making federal budget problems the focus of his campaign stops of late. He has been pressing his contention that a reduction of federal spending to 18% is unrealistic. Kerrey has argued that not only will such a proposal fail to attract the votes needed to pass, but it will hurt a struggling economy.
“Well, that means you have to start closing hospitals. That means you have to start cutting back on care. That means you may even have to get into veterans’ benefits as well and to retirement programs,” Kerrey said. “I mean, it’s all money and you’ve got to take money away to get to 18%. It’s hard to get to 21.”
Kerrey has advocated a reduction in federal spending to 21% of GDP.
Kerrey has endorsed the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, better known as the Simpson-Bowles commission for its co-chairmen, former Wyoming United States Senator, Republican Alan Simpson, and Erskine Bowles, the Chief of Staff for President Clinton, a Democrat. The commission made broad recommendations for budget cuts and tax increases to reduce the federal deficit and shore up Social Security and Medicare.
Kerrey called Fischer’s pledge to not touch Social Security and Medicare entitlements to those over 40-years-old unrealistic.
“She took pandering to a new low, saying nobody over the age of 40 is going to have to pay any more or take any less,” according to Kerrey. “Normally, 55 is sort of the cut off point for the panderers that want to not make any changes and say, ‘This isn’t going to affect you at all.’ If you are going to have any test of shared sacrifice, we’ve all got to be in it.”
Kerrey said he plans to make fiscal issues a focal point in debates with Fischer scheduled for the 28th and the 1st of October.
AUDIO: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey tlaks budget issues with reporters in Lincoln. [7 min.]