by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The president’s willful ignorance of the facts notwithstanding, federal government overspending is a major problem, a fact documented in a Wall Street Journal column co-authored by three men with different political philosophies.
One of us is a Democrat; one, an independent; another, a Republican. Yet, together, we recognize several hard truths: Government spending levels are unsustainable. Higher taxes, however advisable or not, fail to come close to solving the problem. Discretionary spending must be reduced but without harming the safety net for our most vulnerable, or sacrificing future growth (e.g., research and education). Defense andhomeland security spending should not be immune to reductions. Most consequentially, the growth in spending on entitlement programs—Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare—must be curbed.
These truths are not born of some zeal for austerity or unkindness, but of arithmetic. The growing debt burden threatens to crush the next generation of Americans.
Coming out of the most recent elections, no consensus emerged either to reform the welfare state or to pay for it. And too many politicians appear unwilling to level with Americans about the challenges and choices confronting the United States. The failure to be forthright on fiscal policy is doing grievous harm to the country’s long-term growth prospects. And the greatest casualties will be young Americans of all stripes who want—and need—an opportunity to succeed.