Mike Needham

Many analysts also correctly noted that President Obama failed to take these challenges head on in his budget. Rather than leading, he offered lots of hopeful rhetoric in an attempt to obscure the lack of change. In his budget, spending increases, deficits mount, taxes rise and entitlements remain untouched.

Winning the future does not, as the President suggests, require massive government intervention and spending. America can out-innovate, out-educate, out-produce any country in the world so long as the private sector is given room to do so.

The heavy hand of government did not turn America into the single greatest nation ever known to mankind. Men and women who were willing to take enormous risks built our nation from the ground up – risks that had no government back stop.

America’s next President must recapture the entrepreneurial spirit of America.

To do that, he or she must diverge sharply from the status quo. There is simply too much at stake to go pandering state-to-state, demographic-to-demographic or interest group-to-interest group.

A candidate cannot travel to Iowa and tout ethanol subsidies, then to Pennsylvania to promote steel tariffs and then to Florida to promise a federal backstop for homeowners insurance.

And a candidate most certainly cannot ignore our entitlement programs. Wthout major changes to entitlements, we are condemning our children and grandchildren to a future of servicing the debt on the programs we are unwilling to pay for.

Courageous and principled leaders are difficult to find. All too often politicians prefer to take the path of least resistance and play it safe. But, as we’ve seen over the past month and a half, things are slowly starting to change in Washington. Instead of talking about new programs and how to divvy up more money, many politicians are talking about the proper role of government and what programs should be eliminated.

The challenge of the 2012 election will be to keep building upon this momentum.

Mike Needham

Mike Needham is the Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Action for America, a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to advancing legislation that promotes freedom, opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.