The f0llowing article was published by The Weissman Report in December of 2012.
Dear Mr. President, the following is a message I long to hear from you as this nation’s leader. It’s not a left or right-leaning manifesto, it’s how I believe you must lead a generation that cares about its future and the legacy it leaves behind. Not to sound pushy, but the content is urgent, so I’d ask you to deliver this speech as soon as your tech team can upload it to the nearest teleprompter:
“My fellow Americans, as your President, I feel the need to do something that politicians like me have failed to do, primarily because it tends to shorten one’s political career. I’m going to tell you the truth about the economy. And I need to warn you, you may not like what I have to say. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to make you anxious, and it’s going to demand more than any of us wish to offer. But Americans don’t run from the truth. As we’ve always done, we must risk the discomfort of honesty should we hope to preserve the nation we inherited from the greatest generation of Americans, whose personal and collective sacrifices generated the freedom and prosperity we’ve squandered.
So, in the spirit of truth-telling, here goes:
You can dress it up any way you’d like, citing comparative statistics of other developed nations, but the fact is that we’re falling deeper into debt each day, in an uncontrollable and disturbing manner. On Novevember 1, our national debt was $16,221,685,381,838.28, according to the Bureau of the Public Debt. When I was inaugurated, the figure was $10,626,877,048,913.08, an increase of $5,594,808,332,925.20 under my watch, which amounts to an average indebtedness of over $50,000 for every man, woman and child in America. At this rate, we’ll surpass the $20 trillion figure by the end of my second term.
Our wildly expanding and sadly irresponsible trillion-plus dollar deficits have forced us to borrow an unimagineable sum from China–40 cents of every dollar to be tragically exact–and to print money out of thin air to cover what we can’t or won’t borrow.
Let me explain why these actions are so problematic. Our ability to borrow depends upon our credit, out ability to make payments on our debt. And our ability to make payments on our debt is dependant upon a low interest rate, which we’ve been able to secure so far. But when interest rates rise, we won’t be able to borrow money because we can’t afford the new interest rate on top of the ballooning principle and interest payments on our current debt. This means that we’ll be forced to print even more money, which causes every dollar we have to become less and less valuable. This hurts everyone–rich, poor, small businesses and large, and yes, even government. History is littered with failed nations who tried to print their way out of financial calamity, who were crippled by exorbatant inflation rates which brought them to their knees.
I ran against our addiction to deficit spending, criticizing the practice as “unpatriotic” and irresponsible. But as every politician realizes once in office, fixing the problem is easier said than done, and no elected official wants to become the sacrificial lamb who axes the favorite programs of would be voters. Simply put, saving our nation from financial ruin is just not good for job security in Washington D.C.
This is why the Founding Fathers rejected the notion of career politicans who are indebted to their parties and addicted to vocational self preservation at the expense of the country’s future. But now that I’m a “lame duck,” no longer beholden to the whims of voters, the prerogatives of party, and the demands of donors, I wish to end all of that. I wish to do the right thing, even if it causes my popularity to plunge into single digits. You see, I care about my daughters and the future I leave behind for them, and I cannot spend eight years in the White House and do nothing about this problem.
So from this day forward, I will take aim at our debt and deficit as my top priotity, and I will decidedly pursue this at the expense of popularity or party affirmation, because I would leave the office a failure should I do anything less. To be brief yet specific, the following will be the goals of my second term:
1. We will move to pass balanced budget and line item veto amendments to force the federal government to spend within its means, and to ensure that future presidents have both the responsibility and authority to keep federal spending in the black. This will include the mandate to keep our debt at or below 20% of GDP and the requirement that no elected representative in any branch of government will be paid (including salary, benefits, and all expenses) until the government presents a valid and fiscally responsible budget each year.
2. We will propose legislation to reform all major entitlement programs, including social security, medicare, and yes, even Obamacare, to ensure that they meet the needs of the nation without bringing us to our knees. Each program must have a 50-year solvency plan in order to continue to receive funding. We’ll reform these programs with the understanding that no initiative–no matter how beloved or well-intended–is worth accumulating debt to fund, and no American deserves an entitlement for which future Americans must pay. Each generation must carry its own load or, as in the case of the greatest generation, lighten the load for the next generation.
3. As shocking and painful as this sounds, we will have a balanced budget by the end of my second term. I realize that this will slash, downsize, or even do away with many spending initiatives that currently form the framework for much of our economy and government. But frankly, I just can’t trust my successors to do it for me. We’re good at kicking the can ahead to the next guy, but that’s not what my reelection slogan “forward” was intended to mean. I want to be a president that leads, not defers. That’s what you elected and now reelected me to do.
4. I won’t raise taxes until we meet strict standards for fiscal restraint. I have shared, in no uncertain terms, my desire to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but I realize that it’s irresponsible to do so without a demonstrated ability to control spending–it would simply enable our addiction to wasteful spending. Plus, the tax increase that I’ve proposed would generate $60 billion at most, which is a drop in the fiscal bucket and totally irrelevant for solving the real problem of our colossal deficit and debt.
5. You need to take your responsibilities very seriously, both as citizens and voters. You can blame the government all you want for our debt, but it’s you who put us in office and you who remove us from office. It’s you who demand programs, benefits, and entitlements from those you elect, and it’s you who reject candidates who seek to end or reform such programs. In short, you must stop forcing politicians to choose between electability and honesty, and you must do it for the long-term. Any improvements we make in the next several years can be easily undone by a relapse of irresponsible spending. At the end of the day, each American must look in the mirror and ask what kind of nation they want. And if the answer is a nation that spends whatever it takes to provide whatever you demand, then you’ll get what you deserve.
6. This same fiscal discipline must be required from states, many of which have hewn deep trenches of debt with the expectation that the federal government will force other states to bail them out. Each state will be required to maintain a balanced budget, and it will be illegal for a state to compensate for wasteful spending of the past by siphoning funds from its more responsibile neighbors.
7. As many American families endured the financial challenges of recent years, they tightened their belts and made do with less. They adjusted their budgets and lifestyles around their means, and if they refused to do so, they lost everything. They lived responsibily and within their means, which must be the mindset of every American today. A government that seeks to manage its imbalanced budget cannot be viewed as the guaranteed safety net for the wasteful spending and poor decision-making of its citizens. Our future is one of personal responsibility, in which citizens take care of themselves and one another rather than looking to Uncle Sam with a sense of entitlement. The federal government must get its financial house in order, which means that individual citizens, state governments, and corporations must do so as well. We’re in this together, and none of us can rely on someone else to bankroll our own spending.
8. Now the good news. Americans thrive on personal responsibility and sacrifice for the sake of a free and prosperous future. I have great hope in the American worker, family, entrepreneuer, and business leader. In the past we’ve faced great challenges at home and abroad, and we’ve always risen to the occasion. When threatened by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, we fought two wars in two hemispheres while transforming our economy at home, all in the successful effort of leading the world to victory. The world needs that kind of leadership again. As is the case today, that transformation demanded personal sacrifice from each American, along with personal responsibility. But unlike the totalitarian regimes we defeated, when America demands sacrifice, it does so not to prop up the state, but to release the great power and potential of the individual.
If we do not take decisive measures like the ones I’ve listed above, we will abandon the American dream. Public debt has recently surpassed 100% of our GDP, while many believe that anything above 80% can literally prevent economic growth. Some analysts have said that America’s unfunded liabilities add up to eight times our current national debt, which will almost certainly result in our defaulting on loans, inability to spend on credit, and forcing us into a state of panic that will make the great depression look like the roaring 20’s. As early as 2021, American streets could resemble those of Greece, teaming with rioting citizens who have been denied promised benefits by a government that has no hope of following through. But in America’s case, there is no one to bail us out.
America is the hope of the world. Let’s keep it that way. My fellow Americans, as your president, it’s my job to tell the truth and lead the way. And it’s all of our job to fight this battle. As I said back in 2004, there are no red states; there are no blue states. There are only red, white and blue states, and we must stand together as United States to preserve our future against this common enemy.
God bless you, God bless the United States of America, and God bless the lives of our future citizens, who will either look back at us as another great generation of Americans, or as the generation that squandered American greatness. I hope you’ll join me and join together to make this our finest hour.”