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Budget Deficit
Now that the government has committed over $1 trillion to stabilize the financial system and economic growth is expected to slow, the country's growing deficits aren't something the next president can ignore. Yet neither candidate has adequately addressed what changes he would make to accommodate the new fiscal reality. Both men speak of the need to restore fiscal responsibility while in the same breath promising more tax cuts and proposing spending cuts that are hard to achieve.

· Originally pledged to balance budget by 2013. But McCain adviser now says it will take longer.

· Slow growth in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending.

· Eliminate funds for pet projects, known as earmarks.

· Help pay for tax cuts by creating new jobs in the clean energy sector and developing new automotive technologies, which in turn will boost economic growth.

"Government spending has gone completely out of control; $10 trillion dollar debt we're giving to our kids, a half-a-trillion dollars we owe China. I know how to save billions of dollars in defense spending. I know how to eliminate programs."

-- McCain*
· Enforce budget rules that would require that new spending be paid for by cuts to other programs or new revenue.

· Reduce spending on earmarks to no greater than 2001 levels and require more transparency on such spending.

· Help pay for new proposals by drawing down troops in Iraq war, raising taxes on high-income filers and cutting certain corporate loopholes.

"Once we get through this economic crisis ... we're not going to be able to go back to our profligate ways. We're going to have to embrace a culture and an ethic of responsibility, all of us, corporations, the federal government, and individuals out there who may be living beyond their means."

-- Obama**

NEXT: Jobs and Wages
Last updated October 29 2008: 12:15 PM ET
*Oct. 15, 2008, final debate with Obama at Hofstra University, Long Island, N.Y.
**Oct. 15, 2008, final debate with McCain at Hofstra University, Long Island, N.Y.
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