At the final presidential debate — as well as during the vice presidential debate — candidates were asked about their plans to address America’s growing $19 trillion national debt. Unfortunately, “both candidates missed the opportunity to clearly lay out their visions for a fiscally responsible, long-term future for our country,” Paul A. Volcker and Peter G. Peterson wrote in a joint op-ed published in the New York Times. However, they added, “There’s still time to solve this problem. But our next president needs to show leadership in the first months.”
In mid-October, the Obama administration confirmed that the six-year run of declining deficits had come to an end, with a shortfall of $587 billion for the fiscal year that ended September 30 — up from a $438 billion deficit the year before. The increase, both in dollars and as percentage of GDP, were largely attributed to the tax extenders legislation enacted at the end of 2015.
Although jobless claims fell to the second-lowest level since 1973 in early October, a Marketplace-Edison Research Poll indicated growing economic anxiety among Americans.
The Fiscal Confidence Index for October 2016 is 52 (100 is neutral), indicating the nation’s fiscal future remains a top issue on voters’ minds.
Congress will have to address a series of pressing budgetary concerns in the coming months, the first of which is the expiration of the continuing resolution (CR) that passed at the end of September, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown. Lawmakers have until December 9 to hammer out a budget or pass another CR.
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