Economy Poses Difficult Challenge for Candidates

Obama, McCain may have to alter or scrap economic proposals

a five-year strategy to restore fiscal discipline and ensure that this economic hole doesn’t get any deeper. It should include entitlement reforms that address Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and a pay-go system to cover initiatives or tax cuts.

But the president’s greatest challenge will be political, warned Panetta, adding that Republicans will return to Congress in January with an even slimmer minority and in no mood to cooperate with some of the big economic challenges facing the nation.

“Partisanship is deep on Capitol Hill, so the real question is whether a new president can provide the leadership needed to convince this country about the issues that are going to have to be met, but also convince Congress that they’re going to have to make some hard choices,” Panetta said. “And, there’s a question of whether [the president and Congress] will be willing to ask Americans to make the sacrifices to do what’s necessary so we can reach the surface again of our economic welfare.”

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