Understanding America’s Fiscal Woes

With the release of the "Voter's Survival Kit: The Smart Guide to What the Politicians Won't Tell You," Public Agenda is once again engaging constituents and providing a much needed non-partisan balance in the political sphere. The kit is comprised of non-partisan issue guides that focus on specific challenges: the economy, immigration, taxes, spending and the national debt, climate change, Iraq and health care.

Surely these are all major topics of concern, but with the recent fiscal meltdown and continued economic strain, I'd like to encourage you to check out "The Economy" issue guide (be sure to read them all, but this guide is an absolute essential if you want a concise overview of the current fiscal mess). While learning about the economy can be a daunting task (let's face it, it's not the most exciting topic in the world), Public Agenda has made understanding the issue at hand a simple and painless process. After all, how can the American electorate make an informed vote on the issues if we're constantly relying on the imbalanced spin we hear in the debates and on the campaign trail?

"The Economy" issue guide gets down to the point, as it provides the basic facts about America's economic debacle, potential directions the nation can take and much more. If you are a citizen, politician, political news junkie, blogger or professional who simply wants a reliable overview, this is a must-read guide.

The Fix We're in Now

In the first section of the guide, you'll be presented with the fact that 12% of Americans live below the poverty line (gasp). And if that doesn't sound scary enough the actual number – 36 million Americans – is chilling (to some degree, this is actually a longitudinal improvement, as you'll read). And then there's savings and health care. As you may already know, Americans are borrowing more and saving less and a chunk of the American public – 16% – is uninsured.

And this is only a small piece of the puzzle. The economy is a multifaceted issue; politicians will need to free themselves from wasteful spending habits, while complicating their understanding of the national and world economies so that fiscal rejuvenation can improve the current mess.

How We Got Here

While understanding the mess is important, getting some background on how we let our country get to this point is essential. Public Agenda's guide provides this important information. While we need politicians to set policies that will improve America's fiscal footing, we also need to consider the fact that private companies, investors, consumers and workers all have a role in the process. The guide discusses the fact that while the U.S. economy actually grew for the first half of this year (yes, I said grew) and the productivity of the American worker continues to increase, prices are rising, we're overstretched on credit and our government is more than $10 trillion in debt. The guide makes clear that America's economy continues to show strength in many areas even as our economy's vulnerabilities become harder to deny.

What's the Plan?

Okay, so, economically speaking, things aren't the best. While driving that point home isn't too difficult in these strained times, talking about solutions is a bit more challenging. Public Agenda provides some choices that are championed as beacons of hope for repairing America's economic system. While I won't delve too deeply into these recommendations, I'll present them here:

  • Keep taxes low and government involvement at a minimum so the free market can work
  • Focus on creating good jobs at home and securing a safety net for all Americans
  • Get the U.S. back on track to compete in the global economy by investing in key areas and growing "21st Century Industry" in America.

Public Agenda does not advocate for any one of these approaches. A non-partisan review of each is undertaken. Be sure to check out all of the relevant information on these potential "fixes."

With economic strain comes the need for an informed electorate. Kudos to Public Agenda for formulating a guide that provides the information and perspective needed to equip voters to address the economy (and other relevant issues) during this election cycle.