A staggering absence of leadership

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Trader666, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. A staggering absence of leadership
    J.C. Watts
    Posted: Mar. 20, 2011 | 2:03 a.m.

    Seventy-eight years ago this month, newly inaugurated President Franklin Roosevelt told a weary nation, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

    The next part of that speech is largely forgotten, but it contains the more essential advice for lawmakers today. Roosevelt warned fear often "paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance," and said, "In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory."

    Leadership. Frankness. Vigor. President Roosevelt reminded his fellow citizens that, for a century and a half, American politicians had embodied these qualities. He said these qualities were still in need. I obviously don't agree with all of the solutions the Roosevelt administration proposed or signed into law. But I do acknowledge that he had the courage to lead in the face of great odds and great opposition.

    Today, lawmakers in Washington face the threat of our time: a spiraling national debt, chronic overspending and long-term liabilities the public knows little about. The American taxpayers are drowning in red ink and the repercussions from years of deficits now threatens the entire U.S. economy.

    Will elected officials today have the leadership, courage and vigor to face these problems?

    If you pay attention to the news media, the answer is no. Journalists are currently obsessed with polls showing a seeming contradiction. Americans are worried about our fiscal situation. But when asked about detailed proposals to cut spending, their support wanes. Poll respondents instead want lawmakers to focus on cutting waste.

    According to a recent poll by Public Notice and the Tarrance Group, because most believe the government wastes 42 cents of each dollar, 60 percent of likely voters believe federal budget problems can be fixed by simply eliminating waste, fraud and abuse.

    If Americans don't want big cuts or reforms, why should lawmakers pursue them?

    Because they are necessary. I wish we could solve our budget problems by just tinkering around the edges. It's going to take more. Much more.

    Our current leaders must lead. They need to start by having a very frank discussion with the American people about the true fiscal state of our nation. They must follow by exploring and proposing vigorous plans to reform the biggest portions of the budget, namely Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and, yes, we must look at waste in the Defense Department.

    President Obama's deficit commission began acknowledging these problems last fall. Commission member and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has acknowledged cash-negative Social Security will be broke by 2037. He also acknowledged Medicare will go permanently cash negative in a decade. Commission member David Cote, the chief executive officer of Honeywell, said Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were going to "crush the system."

    Conrad and Cote are right. Within the next decade, nondiscretionary programs including Social Security and Medicare and interest on the national debt will consume 90 cents of every federal tax dollar. That leaves a dime of every dollar left for every other priority, including defense, education and homeland security.

    Unfortunately, members of Conrad's own party, including some in the White House, and the left-leaning establishment are trying to backtrack, saying Social Security is fine for the next several decades.


    According to FactCheck.Org, "Social Security has passed a tipping point. For years it generated more revenue than it consumed, holding down the overall federal deficit and allowing Congress to spend more freely for other things. But those days are gone. Rather than lessening the federal deficit, Social Security has at last -- as long predicted -- become a drag on the government's overall finances."

    Throughout my public life I've heard politicians say the issues facing these programs are too far down the road to tackle now. These remarks were simply a way for them to avoid the difficult choices necessary to reform and strengthen these programs.

    Both parties are at fault, and they both must face up to the facts. If we don't have the courage and vigor to tackle these problems now, when the public's interest is so focused on our long-term financial issues, when will we?

    I realize these numbers are daunting. They are so large and at times so unfathomable that it could be tempting to throw up our hands and say, "There is no solution to which we'll all agree, so why should we even try?"

    So I remind them of President Roosevelt's caution: The only thing standing in the way of a solution is yourself. Have courage. Be a leader. Act.

    Now is the time.

  2. pspr


    But our national politicians still aren't taking it seriously. Flush the rest of them out of there in 2012.
  3. Yannis


    I'm Not Sure Who's The Original Author, But,
    Here's something to think about....

    "I remember asking dad about Castro when I was about 9 years old. I asked, "Is Castro a good guy or bad?" Dad said he couldn't tell!! This was about 1955. We were living in Louisiana at the time. Dad was in the army there.

    Cuba was fairly close and in the news a lot. The Cubans were asking the same question! Ike was president.

    This past July, we had the pleasure of sharing a summer barbecue with a refugee from Cuba . Our dinner conversation was starkly different than most. This refugee came to the United States as a young boy in the early 1960s. His family was more fortunate than most as they were able to bring a suitcase and $100 when they fled Castro's newly formed revolutionary paradise.

    Our dinner consisted of all-American fare: hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon and fresh ears of sweet corn. This is a menu shared with family and friends nationwide, while celebrating the birth of our beloved America on the Fourth of July.

    We began with a simple discussion about our country and the direction it has taken since Barack Obama came to power. We shared the usual complaints about the sour economy and liberal social engineering emanating from the rulers in Washington .

    But then he said it. The sentence came naturally. I assume it was unplanned. But it carried the weight of a freight train. "You know when Castro took power, none of us knew he was a Communist"

    We sat stunned. He continued, "Yes, we all thought he was a patriot, a nationalist. Before the revolution he didn't sound like a radical."

    The comparison at this point was easy, and I interjected, "You mean just like Barack Obama?" He responded; "Yes, just like Barack Obama."

    He continued, "We were all shocked as the government just continued to grab more power. First they said the revolution is over, so please turn in your guns. We all complied."

    "I remember my uncle saying after it started; 'Castro will only nationalize some of the big industries, he will never come and take our family hardware store.' But that is exactly what happened; Castro started with the sugar mills and the large industries, but they eventually came and knocked on the door of our family hardware store. My family had run this store for generations. They said we now own the hardware store, you work for us. And that nice, large four-bedroom home you own, it is now our property also, and you can move yourself and five children into two rooms of the house because others are moving in with you."

    The lesson learned from this discussion is a lesson most Americans refuse to hear. Political leaders can lie about their agenda and once in office they can take totally unexpected turns.

    If you had asked us three years ago if we thought General Motors would be nationalized, we would have never believed it. We could never contemplate a country where the rule of law, the most fundamental building block of a justice society would be evaporating just like it did in Castro's Cuba in the early 1960s.

    But the news of injustice keeps increasing. Black Panthers are not charged with wrongdoing by the U.S. Department of Justice because their crimes are against whites. The bondholders of GM are stripped of their assets without due process by the government. Governmental leaders are bribed in full daylight only to have all investigation of the crimes stifled by the Attorney General. The U.S. borders are overrun with crime and illegal activity and the leaders in D.C. act as if it is important to protect the lawbreakers while the innocent are killed and overrun. When local communities attempt to enforce the law, they are ridiculed and threatened as racists and bigots. They are sued by the very administration entrusted with enforcing the law.

    Without the rule of law the U.S. Constitution is a sham. Without the rule of law our beloved America is swiftly becoming a country where only the well connected and politically powerful will be safe. As Michelle Malkin has so eloquently explained in her recent book, a culture of corruption has replaced honest government.

    The only way this problem will be fixed is by massive citizen action. All honest citizens that want to be treated equally must come together and demand that the favoritism, the bribes, the uneven enforcement of law end now. And yes, it can happen here."

  4. Yannis



    "To paraphrase Mark Twain, the three kinds of lies are lies, damn lies, and government statistics. Governments lie, particularly about economic stats in the middle of a recession and the Obama Bureau of Labor Statistics has refined misrepresenting our economic situation to a high art form.

    In a previous column, we reported that Rasmussen's index of consumer confidence has fallen dramatically since January from a height of 88 to 73 in mid-March. Now, from the Gallup organization comes the reason why: Unemployment is up, not down!

    Gallup has measured true joblessness in its polling during this entire recession. Here's the story:

    • Unemployment stood at 10.9 in Feb, 10.

    • It fell each month ending up at 8.9 in Aug.

    • Then it rose again steadily to 10.1 in Oct.

    • And dropped to a low of 8.8 in Dec.

    • And then shot up again to 10.3 in March of 2011!

    In other words, the American public had it right when they were euphoric in January of 2011 with a consumer confidence rate of 88% and are right, again, when they lost all confidence as unemployment soared again over the past three months.

    Economists predict "false dawns" in permanent recessions when the clouds part and all seems well. But the dawns are, indeed, false, and the dismal reality of the continuing depression pushes its way back in.

    You wouldn't know that the economy has crashed in the past three months by watching this president or this Administration. In fact, Ben Smith, writing in Politico.com said recently that the Obama folks were wondering when to declare that the recession was over. As joblessness was rising again to new heights, Obama was declaring, in his State of the Union speech that the darkest days of the recession were over. Nobody called him on this Hoover-esque optimism. But it now shows how out of touch with reality he is.

    Not all of this economic downturn can be ascribed to the gas price increases. The Middle East turmoil that triggered it had not really hit until the middle of February. By then, according to Gallup, joblessness had risen from 8.8 in December to 10.0 in February, on its way up to 10.3 in March.

    Or, if you get tired following the ups and downs, you can say that unemployment has ranged between 9 and 11 percent under Obama's entire presidency and you would be right.

    Until we repeal his social engineering, reduce the economic uncertainty it has engendered, roll back his spending and his deficits, and deregulate the economy, joblessness will continue. And continue. And continue. And continue."