Ed Feulner

Shortly before Inauguration Day, President-elect Barack Obama refused to comment on Israel’s battle with Hamas. The United States has only one president at a time, he said.

Well, now it’s his turn. As the country’s first black commander-in-chief, Obama has already made history. He’s our president -- our only president until 2013 -- and all Americans should wish him well.

Of course, those of us on the political right are likely to disagree with his policies from time to time. That’s what democracy is all about.

We’ll never shy away from telling our leaders when they’re on the wrong path -- something George W. Bush and congressional Republicans learned when they rammed through the budget-busting Medicare prescription-drug entitlement over conservative opposition. But all Americans are eager to see our country take the right path, regardless of who gets the credit.

So as he begins his work, President Obama could benefit by looking to a predecessor who also took power during a time of economic difficulties and led his countrymen to far better days.

“The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades,” Ronald Reagan declared in his first inaugural address 28 years ago. “They will not go away in days, weeks or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we’ve had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.”

Reagan understood that, in the United States, the people rule. And that means we need to recognize that economic growth isn’t generated by government giving us things. Government’s job is to create a climate that makes the good things we work for possible.

Unfortunately, in the last year, the federal government has taken the wrong steps. Washington launched unprecedented spending programs, which will continue (at Obama’s request) into the new administration.

Yet if deficit spending was going to boost the economy, why didn’t the $350 billion spent in the fall of 2008 do the trick? Or the additional $350 billion Bush asked for in his last days? Our leaders are pouring on the spending, but the economy refuses to be stimulated.

Ed Feulner

Dr. Edwin Feulner is Founder of The Heritage Foundation, a Townhall.com Gold Partner, and co-author of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today .
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