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Columns

January 26, 2013

America at a crossroads in 2013

Our country is at a crossroads. After four straight years of trillion-dollar deficits, our national debt now stands at over $16 trillion. If we don’t change course, based on the policies contained in President Barack Obama’s most recent budget proposal, we’ll continue to have trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.

This is unsustainable. The country is headed for bankruptcy, and my generation is in danger of being the first to leave America worse off than we inherited it. Regardless of what political party one belongs to, we simply cannot countenance this — 2013 must be the year we fix it.

Clearly what this country needs right now are policies that grow our economy, restructure federal programs, and reduce spending. We certainly have the “know-how” to get that done — the question is do we have the political will to tackle this crisis. I believe we do.

Starting with the basics — we have a constitutional design that, in the absence of political consensus, maintains the status quo. Our founders purposely created this system to protect our liberties while providing for limited and effective government. Consensus can be forged by single-party control with a unified position or through bipartisan agreement during periods of divided government. Clearly, if we desire to change, we will need to work together.

In 2010, President Obama commissioned a deficit reduction panel led by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and President Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, Erskine Bowles. They produced a viable bipartisan proposal that reduced the deficit by over $4.2 trillion over a decade.

By the end of this 10-year span, the annual deficit would be less than the interest payments on the debt, allowing for a fully balanced budget in the years that followed.

Regrettably, Simpson-Bowles went nowhere. To date, President Obama has not embraced it, nor has he provided a workable alternative.

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