In an article about how the current financial crisis would affect the two presidential candidates promises, the NY Times demonstrates the real problem without even noticing it.

While first commenting, as I did, that neither candidate could get specific on what promised programs they would not implement or delay as a result of circumstances, the paper immediately jumps in with the absolutely wrong emphasis.

The big issue for each candidate is not spending, per se, but how the crisis will affect their promises on taxes. Mr. Obama has said that he would raise taxes on the wealthy, starting next year, to help restore fairness to the tax code and to pay for his spending plans. With the economy tanking, however, it’s hard to imagine how he could prudently do that. He should acknowledge the likelihood of having to postpone a tax increase and explain how that change will affect his plans. Then, he can promise to raise those taxes as soon as the economy allows.

Mr. McCain has an even tougher job. To be straight with voters, he would have to acknowledge that the centerpiece of his economic plan — to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts beyond their expiration in 2011 and to add billions of dollars of new tax breaks — is impossible. If he went ahead with those plans, the national debt would explode, undermining the borrowing that the nation must undertake to finance the bailouts.

Sounding like some forlorn caller to the Dave Ramsey show, complaining that they could get out of debt if only they could make more money, the Times looks only to the income side of the ledger.  Not content to ignore spending, they specifically rule it out.  But as anyone who’s listened to Dave, or to advice from Crown Financial Ministries, or just about any other financial advisor, it is far, far easier to regulate your spending thanit is your income level.  Now, the federal government is in a different position than most of us, in that they can simply legislate the amount of money they want to come in, but as these advisors will tell you, if you don’t discipline your spending and set good habits in that regard, no amount of income will be enough.  Ever.

Not only does the Times come at this problem incorrectly, it’s ironic that it paints itself into a corner on its proposed solution.  Obama can’t raise taxes, but McCain can’t cut them.  Guess the Bush tax levels are, as Goldilocks might say, just right?

But seriously folks, let’s not forget who’s backward proposal this is; the New York Times.  No one would mistake them for a member of The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.  This is a liberal answer to the problem, and it is entirely the wrong approach.  The conservative answer to this are common sense financial principles.

Notice I’m not naming party names.  This is mostly because, while Democrats can spend like a drunken sailor, Republicans have show that they can get about as drunk themselves.  If the conservative, common sense solution is to have a ghost of a chance, Republican politicians have to get back to their conservative roots.

And we, as their constituents, have to get out of our entitlement mentality, waiting to see which candidate for whatever office will give us the most stuff.  Otherwise, the road to the presidency will be won by the candidate promising to be the most pandering and the least responsible.  The best thing about our republic is that it is government “by the people”, but sometimes it’s the worst thing about it, too.

Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes.

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