Truth may be the first casualty of war, but it's also in low supply on the campaign trail, writes Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post. The nut of the problem: "a yawning gap between the political rhetoric and the country's budget problems," he writes. "And it’s not just Obama. Mitt Romney is also playing." Rather than lecture them on the need to balance tax increases with public service cuts, Samuelson takes the quick route and writes a short speech for each candidate:
- President Obama. "As you know, the great driver here is the retirement of baby boomers." To summarize: The population of retirees will skyrocket by 50% to 66 million by 2025, creating an annual $1.4 trillion deficit. And taxing the rich won't fill the gap. So "we must reduce benefits for healthier and wealthier retirees to minimize deficits, other program cuts and tax increases."
- Mitt Romney. "I pledged to reduce federal spending to 20% of GDP. This won't happen: The required cuts for important programs would be too great." Yes, we desperately need to control Social Security and health care in the coming years, "but to balance the budget, we’ll still need to raise more, not less, tax revenue from the income tax or other taxes."
Why bother telling the truth? Because "the chasm between stump rhetoric and governing realities will haunt whoever wins," writes Samuelson. Click for his full column