U.S. Senate candidates on the issues: Addressing the federal debt

U.S. Capitol. Flickr Creative Commons.

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of November’s general election. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas.

We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day, each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item #2:

By the end of this year, the federal debt will be nearly equal to the size of the entire United States economy. The deficit has been exacerbated in recent years by the 2017 tax cuts and the stimulus package enacted at the start of the pandemic. How big a priority to you is lowering the federal debt? What specific steps would you support to reduce it?

Roger Marshall (Republican)

I’ve long said that the debt is a national security threat, and that it’s what keeps me up at night. It’s one of the reasons I ran for office for the first time four years ago, and it’s got to be reined in before it’s too late.

Since coming to the U.S. House, I’ve taken action to do so. I’ve pushed a plan requiring the Congressional Budget Office to include debt servicing costs in all new spending estimates. I’ve cosponsored a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I’ve to cut wasteful federal spending at agencies like the EPA, and I opposed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, which raised the debt ceiling while kicking the can on our long-term fiscal problems.

However, we will never truly be able to deal with the national debt without a strong economy. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had an economy that was the strongest in my lifetime — and the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act was a big reason why. It gave every income bracket in America a long overdue tax break. It brought our tax code into the 21st Century. It made us more competitive globally and it helped unleash our economy. I will always support policies that strengthen the free-enterprise system and generate growth, otherwise America’s debt problem will only get worse.

Jason Buckley (Libertarian)

The U.S. federal budget deficit and debt are unsustainable. Letting this issue continue unresolved will collapse our country. Nothing else will matter if we allow this to happen. The two old parties have no intention to correct this problem that they are responsible for. Reforming our budget to eliminate the deficit and debt will be one of my top priorities. I will also demand anything passed through congress to include items reducing both. For every dollar of new spending, two dollars must be cut somewhere. We must stop the bleeding. I work to start cutting all federal government programs that are not authorized by the U.S. Constitution.

Barbara Bollier (Democrat)

The federal debt and the deficit is absolutely a priority for me. I am the only candidate in this race with a proven record of fiscal responsibility and have always worked to maintain balanced budgets in the state legislature. When the Brownback tax experiment wrecked fiscal havoc in Kansas, I railed against budgets that didn’t balance, bills that were left unpaid, and a state debt that reached historic levels. I also rolled up my sleeves and got to work across the aisle to actually find a solution and get our fiscal house in order.

As a U.S. Senator, I will be very intentional in what we do invest in. For example, at times of economic stability we should build up our reserves to help pay down our federal debt. That will put us in a better position to respond in times of crisis. We also have places where we can improve our budgeting and our expenses, and places where we can end corporate tax loopholes. For instance, there is currently an incentive for companies to take their businesses overseas — they are actually paid to do that. We should end that loophole. Ultimately, I will work to increase transparency in the budgeting process, eliminate fraud and waste from the federal budget, and reduce the federal deficit.

Tomorrow, we will publish the U.S. Senate candidates’ responses to item #3 on our questionnaire: 

The number of deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the United States is considerably higher than many developed Western countries (like Canada, France and Germany) — though slightly below others (like the UK and Spain). Are you satisfied with the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? What could the government have done differently to improve outcomes here in the United States?