It’s in my nature to be cheerful and optimistic, and I am optimistic about the future of the United States. But it’s not in my nature to be delusional, and no nation can realize the vision of its most optimistic people if it doesn’t face up to the serious problems confronting it.
A good leader understands and acknowledges when a nation faces serious problems – and offers real solutions to those problems.
Unfortunately, the United States now faces a shockingly large number of big, serious problems and does not have the leadership in place that knows how to fix them – nor is our current leadership even willing to do so. Consequently, as we choose new leadership in this year’s elections, we must be clear about the problems we face and the solutions that are necessary to deal with them. One could argue that we face hundreds of problems, but I believe we will turn the country in the right direction if we focus on the right problems and get them fixed – and they are these:
Just because we are not technically in a recession doesn’t mean you can call our economic state of affairs a “recovery.” When the growth of our gross domestic product is sputtering along at a pathetic 1.5 percent, we are not recovering. The Obama administration was pretty excited last week when the new jobs report showed an uptick of 164,000, but it shouldn’t have been. That’s barely more than the number of people entering the work force, and the last two months the figure was about half that. This is why unemployment remains at a historically high 8.3 percent.
The jobs are not there. Why? Not only is the administration committed to anti-business policies today – particularly with the imminent tax increases associated with Obamacare – but the uncertainty over any number of future policies is killing job growth because businesses are unwilling to make big commitments. They have no idea what’s coming even in the near term.
The solution to this is to make economic growth the nation’s priority, and to eliminate all economic policies that inhibit it. More on that below.
National security weakness
If the coming defense sequester happens, we will see $500 billion automatically chopped from the defense budget. And shockingly, that only builds on existing policies of national security weakness. We are already reducing the size of our naval fleet. We are already seeing rising tension in the Middle East. Unfriendly nations like Russia and Iran have no fear of challenging the United States. Allies like Great Britain and Poland cannot count on us for support, or even to keep commitments we have already made. Israel has no confidence the U.S. will have its back if it becomes necessary to use military force to defend itself.
The solution to this is to prioritize federal budgeting (but then we would need a budget in the first place. More on that below) to fulfill the crucial constitutional duty of protecting national security, and to practice clarity in foreign policy so we treat our friends as friends and we let our foes understand that they should fear confronting us. A president who thinks killing Osama bin Laden was a tough call is not going to give us these kinds of national security policies.
Out-of-control federal spending
The federal government is spending a quarter of the entire economy, and liberal demand-siders don’t even think it’s enough! It’s enough to generate annual deficits in excess of $1 trillion, though, as the national debt grows to $16 trillion and beyond. Senate Democrats refuse to even hold a vote on a federal budget, and the nation has not had one since 2009. Everyone can see that federal entitlement programs are growing out of control and need to be restructured, but Congress and the White House are afraid to even touch the issue.
The solution to this one is simple – but not easy. The American people must demand fiscal responsibility, and must make clear to politicians that they will face the most severe consequences if they do not rein in federal spending and restructure entitlement programs. As long as politicians think the safest move for their political careers is to do nothing, that is what they will do. Only the American people can change that dynamic.
It’s bad enough that tax rates are high, and that Obama wants them even higher. The real problem with the tax code is that it is a complicated mess of exemptions, deductions, special favors and “incentives” designed to manipulate behavior, reward people politicians like and punish those they don’t like. And it gets more complicated every year as Congress adds new twists and features designed to achieve political ends. Americans spend billions just to make sure they’re in compliance with this monstrosity.
The reason my 9-9-9 plan resonated during my presidential campaign last year was that it solves this problem! It throws out the entire federal tax code and replaces it with something simple, straightforward and fair. Its goal is simply to raise the revenue the federal government needs to operate, and to do it in a way that removes barriers to prosperity. It would take the power away from Congress to add new politically motivated nuances to the tax code every year, and return that power to the people.
That’s why Washington hates it. What do you think of that?
America can grasp energy independence today. We can drill existing oil resources, begin aggressive pursuit of plentiful coal, natural gas and oil share resources, and empower the private sector to pursue alternative energy concepts like wind, solar and biofuels. If there is way to make these ideas work, the private sector will find it, and I will be the first to cheer. If they can’t work, then we shouldn’t waste money pretending they can!
Instead, the federal government is beating up oil companies and won’t even approve the Keystone XL pipeline that would allow us to buy massive quantities of oil from friendly Canada (while also creating a lot of jobs, I might add). Meanwhile, it invests billions of Energy Department dollars in so-called “green energy” companies that are going bankrupt.
If we were smart about the use of our energy resources, we could make them the new currency by which we achieve economic prosperity on a global basis. But in this area, under the leadership of Obama, we are dumb.
It’s too bad Washington has made such a mess of immigration. It’s a good thing for our nation when smart, hard-working people decide to come here and do so legally. But immigration doesn’t work when you simply allow people to sneak across the border en masse, many of them bringing in weapons and drugs and glomming onto public assistance programs once they get here.
The border is not secure, and there is no making sense of why Washington refuses to secure it. Illegal is illegal – there is no other way to look at it. If we were simply to enforce our existing laws, we could clean up the problem that has exploded to see 12 million people living here illegally. But we won’t even do that. This is not a problem that requires a difficult solution. The solution is easy. It just requires leaders who have the political will to enforce the laws they’ve already passed. Is that really so hard?
There is a determined segment of this nation that sees the Constitution as a serious inconvenience, because it prevents them from achieving the massive power grabs of their dreams. These people should never be allowed near public office, and certainly not near any federal court. The Constitution limits the powers of the federal government because that is the best way to protect the liberty of the American people. When our elected leaders ignore constitutional limits, or try to find tricks to get around them – and worse yet, when the Supreme Court upholds these schemes – we have come to an age when there are not real limits on federal power.
This one is also on the American people. We must know and understand the Constitution, and we must demand that anyone who wants to be elected to public office respect it.
I told you I was optimistic! Every problem has a solution. You just need people who are willing and able to fight for the solutions. And that starts with recognizing that the leaders we have now are not those people.