Opinion | Re-inauguration requires specific attention to national debt, unemployment
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 23:02
The re-inauguration of the president is a sacred tradition that should make any American proud of our country’s exceptional history. Not every nation has such a peaceful legitimization of power, and even fewer do it with such pomp and circumstance. Now, President Obama has to turn his attention to the pressing issues he has neglected thus far. These issues include massive debt and entitlement reforms, both of which will inevitably bankrupt America. We call on the President to address these mounting fiscal issues and to tackle our fragile financial and entitlement infrastructure. We call on him to follow the examples of prominent leaders in the Conservative Movement such as Congressman Paul Ryan and Governor Chris Christie, to name a few. We must not ignore government’s untamed addiction to spending.
First, the president and Congress have yet to seriously consider proposals that alleviate our country of the annual deficit and a threatening $16 trillion national debt. What is even more vexing, however, is the White House’s refusal to name entitlement programs as a reason for budgetary imbalance. Last November, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney transmitted the president’s view: “We should address the drivers of the deficit, and Social Security is not currently a driver of the deficit — that’s an economic fact.” We insist that the administration is mistaken.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security and Medicare make up 40 percent of the federal budget, and in the case of Social Security’s expenditures, the CBO reported last year the benefits exceeded the revenue generated by the payroll tax in 2010. Because of this revenue shortage, the program ran a $50 billion deficit in 2011 and is projected to run an $86 billion deficit. As more and more retirees collect their benefits, our leaders must find a solution that makes Social Security and other entitlement programs affordable for future generations. Reform must come quickly, and those representatives who have displayed the courage to offer credible solutions, such as Miami alumnus and House Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan, must not be criticized by the president.
Secondly, President Obama must consider policies that restore our employment and economic output. While the 2012 election was focused on the economy, according to USA Today exit polling, there has been very little indication by the president that he has serious proposals to spur incentives for job creation and business-friendly reforms. Just as the president is re-inaugurated, the GDP has reported its first contraction since 2009, and the January jobs report showed a stalled hiring market and unemployment at 7.9 percent. Reasonable solutions the president should consider include overhauling the tax code, eliminating existing massive loopholes, and lowering taxes to competitive rates.
President Obama promised to change the way Washington functions, but like so many politicians before him, he has become entrenched in realpolitik and palace intrigue, preventing bold reforms that are required in dynamic times. Those in Washington can take heed to the many conservative state leaders that are tackling their respective challenges. Chris Christie, in his three years as the governor of New Jersey, has scaled back the presence of government in his traditionally blue state, as well as worked with the opposition to overhaul the massive shortfall in the state entitlement system. Bold conservative moves such as this are not something to shy away from – the public accepts the necessity of reigning in budgets, and after three years of advancing fiscal responsibility in New Jersey, Governor Christie holds over 78 percent approval from his constituents, a contrast to the president’s 51 percent average. Christie is considered a frontrunner of the 2016 Republican candidate pack, and we look forward to him bringing his fiscal resume to the national dialogue. Until then, action must be taken in the short term to stave off long term financial malaise. We call on the president to do what is required in all cash-strapped times, to get America on a path of fiscal restraint, and to provide responsible American leadership.