Is America in decline? An honest review of the state of the union would show spiraling budget deficits, uncontrolled growth in government spending, and persistently high unemployment levels. The impression of a once-great nation in eclipse is all too plain.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s not that these problems aren’t real, or don’t pose serious challenges. They do. But those who insist that our best days are behind us don’t have history on their side. Though all kinds of setbacks, from civil wars to great depressions, the United States has always waged a valiant struggle and emerged stronger.
That’s due to in small measure to the innate optimism that has always undergirded the American experiment. It may wane at times, requiring strong leaders to remind us of our birthright, but it’s never far below the surface. That’s why, when America was reeling from Watergate, Vietnam, “stagflation” and a militant Soviet Union, President Reagan was able to inspire Americans to believe in themselves again -- and turn the course of history.
And there’s no reason that a nation born in the unforgiving snows at Valley Forge can’t solve today’s trials.
Yes, they are considerable. As noted in a new report from The Heritage Foundation -- “America’s Opportunity for All,” they include an expanding welfare state, a bloated and overextended federal government, and an increasingly tangled chain of rules from unelected bureaucrats in Washington.
“Nothing about today’s conditions is inevitable or irreversible,” writes Heritage scholar Matthew Spalding. “We can reduce the size and scope of government and let the private sector restore economic productivity and opportunity. We can reform the core programs of government and provide assistance to those who need it because they have fallen on hard times.”
Here are just a few problems and solutions from “America’s Opportunity for All”:
Problem: We face a flood of regulations from Washington. Some 50 commissions, bureaus, and departments enforce more than 150,000 pages of rules. These take a heavy toll on the economy, leading to fewer jobs.
Solution: Congress needs to stop writing vaguely worded laws that leave the details to bureaucrats who aren’t accountable to the voters. Laws should be specific, necessary and carefully written. And they should carry a “sunset” provision, or expiration date.
Problem: From public lands, offshore oil and natural gas fields to domestic coal and uranium mines, the U.S. has enough energy resources to power its economy for decades. Yet we’re the only nation that routinely blocks development of its domestic energy sources.