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(INDIANAPOLIS) – The next Congress will take office with a booming economy, but the worst budget deficit in six years. Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly and Republican challenger Mike Braun have different views of how we got there and how we get out.

The deficit jumped by one-sixth in the just-ended fiscal year, to $779 billion. The Treasury Department says interest on the national debt totaled more than half a trillion dollars.

Braun endorses a variation on Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s “penny plan” to cut total spending by 1{ec4469d41b0b7bdea208b8171ec4991583ff3a026010edcbf3170c07ae1b643f} a year. The Senate rejected that plan 75-22, with Indiana’s Republican Senator Todd Young joining Donnelly in voting no. 

Braun says the 22 yes votes were at least a start. He’d make a slight change to Paul’s plan — instead of leaving it to Congress to decide where the needed $20 billion or so in cuts would come from, Braun says he’d cut every agency by 1{ec4469d41b0b7bdea208b8171ec4991583ff3a026010edcbf3170c07ae1b643f} across the board. He says every agency should be able to find that much in savings, including the military after a recent spending boost.

While the 1{ec4469d41b0b7bdea208b8171ec4991583ff3a026010edcbf3170c07ae1b643f} cuts themselves would trim spending by just a fraction of the deficit, Braun and Paul calculate rising government revenue from economic growth would do the rest and erase the annual deficit in five years. Critics argue the strain on government agencies would be more than just 1{ec4469d41b0b7bdea208b8171ec4991583ff3a026010edcbf3170c07ae1b643f} because of the effect of inflation.

Braun says last year’s tax cut gave businesses the freedom to raise wages and keep the economic boom rolling. Donnelly blames that same bill for the soaring deficit. He says the tax cut was a botched opportunity to deliver not just lower taxes, but tax reform that closed loopholes. Donnelly argues it’s not fair that some corporations end up paying no taxes at all, and says Congress should revisit the issue.

The Office of Management and Budget says revenue gains from economic growth and lower corporate tax collections because of the tax cut canceled each other out, while spending increased.

Donnelly says he’s open to spending cuts, but not to the military. And he’s co-sponsored a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

(Photo: nerthuz/Thinkstock)