As one of the tiny sliver of highly attentive voters who are still undecided, here's where I stand: If Mitt Romney and Barack Obama don't begin showing me something positive in this week's debate, I'm writing in Alan Simpson.
If I could, I'd start a national movement for writing in the former Wyoming Senator and co-chairman of the 2010 national debt commission so that millions of voters could send a message to the next president: Start solving problems!
This has been a miserable campaign for getting answers from the candidates on the most pressing issues. The strategies of the campaigns dictate that attack is preferable to elucidation or inspiration.
So I'm voting for Simpson unless I start hearing some definitive answers on these domestic issues, the focus of the first debate Wednesday night.
1. The Fiscal Cliff: I have not heard either candidate address the catastrophe that befalls the country at the end of this year unless a deal is reached.
A combination of expirations - of the Bush tax cuts, the alternative minimum tax fix and Obama's payroll tax cuts and unemployment extensions - plus an automatic sequestration of defense spending by 10 percent, domestic spending by 8 percent and Medicare by 2 percent is estimated to clobber the economy by up to 5 percent of gross domestic product.
Jim Lehrer's first question to Obama should be: What are you doing to avoid this debacle on your watch? And, to Romney, what advice do you have for Republicans in Congress so you don't inherit it?
Then, to both, what do you say to those - Grover Norquist of anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform and AARP - who have blocked bipartisan solutions proposed in Congress? Simpson has not hesitated to take on both.
2. The Debt and Jobs: The Simpson-Bowles commission set out a formula for saving us from a debt catastrophe - the public debt rising from 70 percent of the GDP at present ($10.6 trillion) - the highest since just after World War II - to 90 percent in 10 years and 200 percent by 2037. Greece's is at 165 percent, but Spain (also in trouble) is like us, at 70 percent.
Simpson-Bowles proposed $4 trillion in debt reduction over 10 years on a 4-1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases. Obama appointed the commission, then ignored it. He now claims he's for $4 trillion in cuts, too - on a 2.5-1 ratio - but watchdogs such as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget say he's double-counting defense savings. And he refuses to restructure Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the big debt drivers.
Moreover, Obama's deficits over four fiscal years - not including the deep recession year 2009 - will total increases of 31.7 percent of the GDP, compared with 26 percent in eight years of spendthrift George W. Bush (including 2009).
Romney, in one GOP debate, said he wouldn't accept a deal involving even $10 in spending cuts to $1 in new revenues.
Getting the debt under control is not just a numbers issue - it's a jobs issue. Concerted action on the debt and taxes - with tax reform that eliminated loopholes and lowered rates - would stimulate investment and job creation. I know where Simpson stands, but not the other two.
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