The key to what is bound to be hand-to-hand combat in the coming debate will be whether Republicans can change our "entitlement" mentality and cause people to focus instead on economic liberty and personal freedom. Can government do more for you than you can do for yourself? If Medicare and Social Security are going broke, why would anyone trust even bigger and costlier government to do better with more of our money?
Some Democrats, like Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), are concerned about the continued level of deficit spending. Conrad believes the nation needs "a much more robust package of deficit and debt reduction over the medium and long term. It is not enough to focus primarily on cutting the non-security discretionary part of the budget, which accounts for just 12 percent of spending this year. Instead, we need a comprehensive long-term debt reduction plan, in the size and scope of what was proposed by the President's Fiscal Commission." President Obama ignored the commission's recommendations.
Changing the way we think about entitlements, economic liberty and personal responsibility will be a challenge for congressional Republicans. They've tried before and Democrats demagogued them into submission. They will try to re-run the same play this time. One hopes Rep. Jordan is right that the country is ready for truth, facts and tough love.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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