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Letter from Ed: Real Fixes to Real Problems
No matter who is running for office some problems seem too hard for Washington to handle. Presidents and Congress put band-aids on major issues.
By Edward C. Brindley, Jr.
Date Posted: 10/1/2008
If you’re like me, you may be a bit tired of all the talk about the upcoming presidential election. It seems like every four years comes another historic election. I believe many people feel somewhat disillusioned because neither party has dealt with some of the most pressing issues, especially energy independence, illegal immigration, social security, excessive government spending, the national debt, bureaucratic red tape, and aging infrastructure.
No matter who is running for office some problems seem too hard for Washington to handle. Presidents and Congress put band-aids on major issues. They refuse to do the difficult work. They merely push tough decisions into the future for some other sucker to address. And we have let them get away with it. The reason this year is a historic election has less to do with breaking any glass ceiling and more to do with our previous delay tactics.
The freight train you hear approaching is the sound of inevitability. We may not be able to delay dealing with our problems much longer because the consequences of our previous actions are forming a perfect storm situation. The world no longer sees the U.S. economy as the envy of the financial sector. Investments and capital are moving from this country to other emerging markets.
Globalization is forcing us to realize our dependence on foreign nations for energy and basic necessities. Our public infrastructure is aging and becoming out-dated at a time when the dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to in the global economy. The United States faces real problems, and we need a leader who will dare to make the tough decisions.
As you go to vote, consider your business, your family and your country. Honestly, I don’t know if either of the major candidates has the guts to make the tough decisions that need to be made in the near future. But I do believe the ideal candidate would have the following characteristics.
• We need a president who will be a political maverick. This person would lead in such a daring way that even opponents will be afraid to follow old school politics.
• We need a president who will cut spending growth and limit earmarks.
• We need a president who will unite Congress on key issues, such as comprehensive immigration and social security reform.
• We need a president who will look at all energy options. This includes domestic drilling, conservation and alternative technologies. The new president should convene a taskforce of experts to develop recommendations for a national energy plan.
• We need a president who will hold those responsible that use government connections to benefit private individuals at taxpayer expense. A perfect example of this is the recent bailout of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The top executives of those organizations made poor decisions and did things that will cost billions of dollars in public financing to fix. Yet, they received extraordinairy salaries, benefits and pensions. The public deserves to know the truth if we are going to pick up the tab.
• We need a president who will follow common-sense environmental policy while avoiding junk science.
Let’s look at a few issues to see where the two major candidates stand. I think we all wish that we could increase our budgets and revenues by a significant percent each year. That is exactly what Congress does. One big reason is earmarks, which are requests for money by a specific legislator. These funds are usually used to help a particular constituency and are tagged onto often-unrelated government spending bills.
Sen. John McCain has crusaded against earmarks for years even to the dismay of others in his party. He has avoided asking for them and called for significant reform. Sen. Barack Obama has requested almost $1 billion dollars in earmarks during his Senate career. To Obama’s credit, he has disclosed his requests to the public, which is something that most in Congress refuse to do. Also, Obama is far from the worst in the Senate when it comes to earmarks.
Government spending is a major concern because Democrats in Congress are talking about a new $50 billion economic stimulus plan to boost the still lagging economy. This could include: heating subsidies, further extension of unemployment benefits, and possibly even loan guarantees for the troubled U.S. auto industry. All of this expense would be added to a budget deficit that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will reach $407 billion next year.
The Enterprise is carrying an excellent article on page 24 by George Barrett of Hardwood Review. He covers how we got in our current energy predicament. I believe we need a president who will be willing to consider all options and not be wedded to either the oil interests or the preservationists and green fear mongers.
I encourage you to vote in the upcoming election and pick the candidate you believe will really address these issues. Although I have my doubts, my vote is going to John McCain because I hope he will be the true maverick he claims to be.