U.S. lacks financial leadership, courage

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

If we can take our limited focus away from the ever-changing face of the Mideast long enough, we have some economic issues at home that urgently need our attention. Unfortunately, the Obama administration this week announced its budget proposals which fail to address our issues in any meaningful manner.

And the GOP response is tepid at best.

Where is the courage to address the most obvious of financial nightmares? Where are those leaders who will willingly sacrifice popular politics for the good of this troubled nation?

I'm beginning to sense we don't just lack financial solutions -- we lack financial leadership. And the lack of economic resolve is clearly non-partisan.

Paul Ryan of Wisconsin comes as close as anyone in speaking the unpopular words that the entitlement monsters are eating our seed corn. And his voice is being drowned in the chorus of those who bravely want to nibble around the edge of the problem without ever touching those spending programs that have us headed to disaster.

Cut my damned Social Security! Address Medicare and Medicaid. And put a watchdog in charge of runaway defense spending that will not jeopardize our security but will eliminate waste, fraud and corruption.

I keep returning to the Deficit Reduction Committee appointed to do Congress's dirty work. That group put politics aside and had no worries about re-election or fundraising or pleasing anyone.

Their final report put some teeth into the entitlement discussion. And no sooner was it released than it was forgotten. Why?

Time was -- not too long ago -- that this nation was a two-party union with Republicans and Democrats having well defined constituents.

But the more I survey the political landscape, the more I fully appreciate why growing numbers of us identify as independents. I'm among those growing tired of hearing the same lame rhetoric coming out of either party.

Few will rejoice when we are forced to cut entitlements -- and believe me, that day is coming. But fewer still will rejoice when our economy is so deep in the hole that we must rely on the finances of others to stay afloat.

The question seems simple to me. Are we willing to experience a little pain in our precious programs now or do we want to experience game-changing pain not far down the road?

That single question will shape the future of this proud nation.

We don't lack solutions. We lack leadership. And courage.

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