Solutions for America
Recently at the Beverly Hills home of "West Wing" producer John Wells, after the string quartet quieted down, President Barack Obama told the assembled Hollywood elite, who paid $2,500 a person for cocktails and $30,400 a couple for dinner: "We have been able to deliver the most progressive legislative agenda - one that helps working families - not just in one generation, maybe two, maybe three." Half an hour later, after the President concluded, "Even as the other side wants to offer fear, we're going to offer hope," the Beverly Hills crowd responded with loud applause.
But as much as the decadent Hollywood left may love Obama's progressive agenda, the American people have soundly rejected it. Yesterday, for the first time in his Presidency, the Gallup daily tracking poll found that a majority of Americans disapprove of the job Obama is doing as President. Even worse for him, last week Gallup found that a majority of Americans disapprove of the President's policies on eight out of thirteen issues. And according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll 58% of Americans believe our country is on the wrong track.
There is little wonder as to why. Since 2000, federal spending has grown across the board. Discretionary spending has expanded 79 percent faster than inflation. The federal government now spends $30,543 per household compared to $21,875 per household in 2000. Under President Obama's budget, Washington is projected to spend $3,618 billion, raise $2,118 billion, and run a $1.5 trillion deficit in 2010. By 2020 President Obama's budget would double the publicly held national debt.
On every issue, the left has only two answers: more federal spending and more federal control. Conservatives have not, and should not, shy away from opposing these policies. But conservatives also must offer an alternative vision of America's future; one that is consistent with our nation's founding principles and empowers the people to compete in the 21st century. Today, The Heritage Foundation is releasing just such an alternative: "Solutions for America."
Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner describes Solutions as "a comprehensive guide for getting our nation back on the right track. Some of the policy recommendations are groundbreaking. Others are familiar. Some are being debated right now. They all have two things in common: They return power to the people, and they are all transformational ideas." For example, Solutions recommends:
Cap Federal Spending: Washington has no enforceable limits on its spending and discretionary spending has nearly doubled since Congress let its spending caps expire in 2002. Congress should enact a firm cap on the annual increase in total government spending, limited to inflation plus population growth. Lawmakers should exert all effort to keep overall federal spending to less than 20% of U.S. GDP, the historical post-World War II average for federal spending.
End the Era of Entitlements: Spending on the Big Three entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) is on autopilot - increasing automatically every year without any budgetary scrutiny. Congress must bring entitlement spending into the congressional budgetary process. We should raise the Social Security retirement age, and encourage people to work longer by eliminating payroll taxes for those over the retirement age. We should let needy families choose how to spend their Medicaid dollars and establish a new Medicare "defined contribution" system as we transition away from today's costly and inefficient fee-for-service system.
Restore Our Free Economy: Our corporate income tax rate, currently the second highest in the developed world, must be cut to restore U.S. competitiveness. The corporate tax rate should be set at or below the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 26% to eliminate the incentive for businesses and jobs to move overseas. We should also stop taxing businesses as individuals, but rather reduce rates to 25%, which would help business to grow and create jobs.
Revive Federalism: Over the course of the 20thcentury, the administration of government has been increasingly centralized under the federal government. In 1900 almost 60% of government spending took place at the state and local levels. Today, the federal government spends more than twice as much as all other levels of government combined. Washington must cede vast swatches of its policymaking authority-and the funding that goes with it-to states willing to reassume leadership in traditional state roles such as transportation, education, health, homeland security, and law enforcement.
Invest in Peace through Strength: A robust military is the surest way to deter aggression and reinforce U.S. diplomacy. To accomplish this, the Pentagon procurement holiday must end. Congress must refurbish our armed forces, especially our depleted Navy fleet and vital missile defenses.
These are just some of the ideas contained in the more than 20 chapters and over 120 specific policy recommendations contained in Solutions for America. Contrary to what the President says, these ideas are not based on fear, but on faith in the American people and the vision of our nation's founders. The policies articulated in Solutions are calculated to make that vision a reality, to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.
Reprinted with permission from The Heritage Foundation
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