Tuesday night’s vice-presidential debate felt, as Ezra Klein noted on Twitter, as if it “fell out of a time warp.” Moderator Elaine Quijano spent far more time on Russia than she did on domestic policy as a whole. She roped together an entire raft of topics under the outdated phrase “social issues.” And she asked a grand total of two question on the economy — and both of those were literally outsourced to a deficit scold organization whose Twitter handle is “@BudgetHawks.”
Quijano did not ask either candidate about their plans to foster job growth. She did not broach the subject of trade. Or ask about home ownership. Or wages. Or job training. Or poverty.
Instead, she asked just two questions about economic policy, and she explicitly attributed both of them to the “nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.” The first asked if the two vice presidential candidates are “concerned that adding more to the debt could be disastrous for the country.” The second warned of a grim future, “when the Social Security Trust Funds run out of money.”
So who is the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget? They are probably the leading advocacy group promoting the idea that federal deficits are out of control and shrinking them should be a top priority. Their board members include both Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of a government commission that tried and failed to advance various proposals supported by deficit hawks in 2010. Pete Peterson, a billionaire who is probably the nation’s leading funder of anti-deficit advocacy, is also a board member.
Pete Peterson, by the way, wants to privatize Social Security–which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he would stand to make a killing if it were privatized. But I digress.
We have an infrastructure deficit, a wage deficit, an employment deficit, a public health system deficit, an equal opportunity at an equally funded education deficit, just to mention a few problems. Inflation is basically non-existent and demand is still low. Let’s not even get started on the Social Security BOOGA BOOGA (the abbreviated version: the estimates are always too pessimistic. Always).
Maybe in the next debate, people from left-leaning EPI and CEPR can provide some questions?
And the congregation responds: This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things.