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Bob Kerrey Is The True Fiscal Conservative

In the U.S. Senate campaign, Deb Fischer and the Republicans have made a big issue about a constitutional amendment requiring that the federal budget be balanced. They've criticized Senator Kerrey's opposition to this amendment and have touted Fischer's support for it. Just what is contained in the balanced budget amendment supported by Fischer? What is Kerrey's record on fiscal issues? The answers are very revealing.

Earlier this year, Ms. Fischer endorsed the GOP's balanced budget amendment to the Constitution which they have slickly labeled: "Cut, Cap, and Balance." However, what Fischer hasn't told you is that this extreme proposal would result in big cuts to Social Security and Medicare as well as lock in the failed Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

One thing crucial feature of "Cut, Cap and Balance" is that it requires a 2/3 super majority before any tax increase is approved. Simply stated, this 2/3 super majority requirement makes it impossible for any President or Congress to reverse any of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Another feature of "Cut, Cap and Balance" that Fischer hasn't mentioned is that this proposal caps federal spending at levels not seen since the 1960s. This provision capping spending combined with the requirement that any tax increase must be approved by 2/3 of the Congress would require huge cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Economists say that assuming defense spending wasn't cut (the GOP steadfastly opposes cuts in defense spending), we'd have to cut around 25% from these programs or over $500 billion in order to reduce federal spending to levels we haven't seen for over 40 years.

If Fischer supports a balanced budget, why doesn't she just propose one and tell us how she would cut $1 trillion from the federal budget? Instead, Fischer seems to content to run a cynical and cowardly campaign
where she refuses to take any specific stands on the issues and is counting on the Super PACs to destroy Bob Kerrey with deceptive ads financed by out of state special interest groups.

Unlike Ms. Fischer, Senator Kerrey has actually shown real courage in his career when it comes to budget issues. It's true that Senator Kerrey voted against a GOP balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in 1997.  However, Kerrey made tough and courageous choices in his Senate career that helped bring about the last balanced budgets we had between 1998-2000.

In 1990, Kerrey supported a budget plan sponsored by President George H.W. Bush that both cut spending and raised taxes. Three years later, during the first year of Bill Clinton's Presidency, Kerrey once again supported an unpopular budget that consisted of spending cuts and tax increases. In 1993, every Republican opposed President Clinton's budget plan - claiming it would cause a deep recession.

Just how did those Republican predictions of doom and gloom play out? As we know, they were dead wrong. What followed the passage of the 1993 Clinton budget package was the greatest peacetime economic boom in U.S. history. During the Clinton Presidency, 22 million new jobs were created, unemployment declined from 7% to 3%, median family income rose, and poverty declined to its lowest rate in 20 years. The Clinton budget also converted what was then the largest budget deficit in American history to the largest surplus.

If Fischer and the Republicans want to have a debate this year about fiscal policy, I say bring it on. We Democrats will defend Kerrey's courageous votes in favor of deficit reduction plans proposed by Presidents of both parties over Fischer's advocacy of yet more tax cuts for the wealthy and big cuts to Social Security and Medicare any day of the week. What this tells the voters is that Bob Kerrey's judgment on economic issues is vastly superior to that of Deb Fischer and that he is the only true fiscal
conservative in this race.

Dennis Crawford is our newly elected 2nd Associate Chair. He will begin serving his term on the NDP's executive board at the first State Central Committee meeting following November's election. Thank you to Dennis for his contribution to the NDP's blog.




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