The handover “does not mean al Qaeda is defeated,” Marine Major-General John Kelly warned. “What it represents is the improving capability of Iraqi security forces to deal with the threat.” As those forces improve, so will the security situation in Iraq -- along with our chances of stamping out al Qaeda.
On the home front, the entitlement crisis is more problematic. In a perfect world, the presidential candidates would lay out detailed plans to make Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare affordable for the long term. Maybe one or both of the leading contenders will still do so.
What we do know is that the American economy is sound. Unemployment remains low, close to what it was in the late 1990s. We’ve created hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs in the last five years. The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts reduced tax rates and boosted federal revenues.
Starting from that solid base, Americans will address our entitlement problems. Targeting benefits to those who need them the most would be a good start. Fixing the broken budget process would create the right dynamics to allow -- even force -- Congress to act.
But however we end up approaching entitlements, we ought to do so with confidence. For generations, Americans have always managed to solve problems and create a better country for their children and grandchildren. There’s no reason we can’t do the same thing.
This Fourth of July, let’s remember our country’s successful past -- and remind ourselves our success was never guaranteed. The only way we can truly be on the “wrong track” is when we lose faith in our ability to build a brighter future.