There is a struggle now being waged in Washington, the outcome of which will determine whether the nation's economy will grow or continue to falter.
The main combatants are President Barack Obama and a thoughtful member of Congress from the nation's heartland, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
One of them, the president, represents the theory that government needs to regulate every facet of the economy. The other, Rep. Ryan, champions the economic freedom that has made the United States the wealthiest and most free nation on the face of the earth.
Ryan, who chairs the powerful House Budget Committee, has outlined a program he calls a "Roadmap for America's Future." It leads to economic freedom, warning that "Washington's leaders have taken an already unsustainable budget outlook and made it far worse" by exploiting "Americans' genuine economic anxieties to justify an unrelenting and wide-ranging expansion of government."
Their agenda, he warns, "has included, among other things, a failed, debt-financed economic 'stimulus'; an attempt to control the Nation's energy sector; increasing domination of housing and financial markets; the use of taxpayer dollars to seize part ownership of two nearly bankrupt auto makers; and, of course, the planned takeover of Americans' health care, already heavily burdened, manipulated, and distorted by government spending and regulation. This domineering government brings taxes, rules, and mandates; generates excessive levels of spending, deficits, and debt; leads to economic stagnation and declining standards of living; and fosters a culture in which self-reliance is a vice and dependency a virtue -- and as a result, the entire country weakens from within."
For his part, President Obama sees government regulation of almost all facets of the economy as a vital tool, appointing so-called "czars" to oversee large segments of the supposedly free U.S. economy.
This struggle will determine whether our economy, once a beacon of freedom, will continue to be mismanaged by unelected bureaucrats.
As this is written, the economy is in a tailspin. Echoing Ryan, respected fiscal monitor Standard & Poor's warned: "The continued failure to come up with a credible medium-term fiscal reform program would increase borrowing costs for all segments of US society, thereby undermining investment, employment and growth. It would also curtail foreigners' appetite to add to their already substantial holdings of US assets. And it would weaken the dollar."
Ryan's website describes key points of the roadmap: