In Their Own Words: Feingold, Johnson on Federal Debt
MILWAUKEE - Newsradio 620 WTMJ posed six questions to Democrat Russ Feingold and Republican Ron Johnson. We gave each candidate the questions in advance and asked them to formulate 60 second answers that include specifics we can track during their term in office.
Each weekday leading up to the election we'll play you each major Senate candidate's answer to another question at 6:34 on Wisconsin's Morning News and 4:34 on the Greenhouse.
The United States is currently more than $13 trillion in debt, and the debt is expected to continue to rise in the coming years. Is the level of national debt a problem for our country? Why or why not?
Transcript of response from Democratic Candidate Russ Feingold
"The level of debt is a huge problem and we have to work to reduce it. In the nineties,
"I actually worked with Republicans and Democrats and together we began paying down the government debt and actually erased the deficit, and then President Bush was handed a $230 billion surplus, but his irresponsible policies of unpaid for tax cuts, unpaid for a prescription drug bill, exploded the deficit and the debt.
"When President Bush left office, he passed on to President Obama a $1.3 trillion deficit.
"I have opposed the reckless policies that has put us in that ditch, and I'm now trying to turn them around, including my Control Spending Now Act, that has 40 specific proposals to reform our budget.
"Everything from an IRS slush fund being cut, to various agriculture subsidies, to various mining subsidies, and it also includes budget reforms like the Line Item Veto bill that I've introduced on a bipartisan basis with Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan. Curbing wasteful spending has to be our very top priority, along with producing jobs.
Transcript of response from Republican Candidate Ron Johnson
"Certainly the current debt of the U.S. does threaten our future prosperity. Currently it stands $13.6 trillion and it's heading north of that.
"We need to first of all recognize that when Sen. Feingold entered office he said his number one goal was debt and deficit reduction. At that point in time, our national debt stood at $4 trillion. Now it's almost $14 trillion.
"He has missed four opportunities to vote for the balance budget amendment.
"That's what we really need to do to in terms of bringing our spending debt under control. We need to establish a very hard spending cap in this country, and that's either a constitutional amendment to balance the budget, or there's other proposals to have a constitutional amendment to limit spending to 20% of our gross domestic product.
"To limit the size and scope of the federal government, that's what is absolutely essential if we're going to get our economy growing and bring a little certainty and stability back to our economy."