In the same weeks that are seeing the Middle East (with all its oil and geopolitical significance) begin to transform itself into we know not what, important economists are predicting that, if current trends continue, not only China, but India also will within a generation have larger economies than ours. And, of course, with strong economies almost inevitably come equivalently strong military capacities.
So as we enter the great deficit and debt fights of this budget season both in Washington and the states, the question that enters my mind is: Will the people of the United States be content to merely settle down and become a relatively affluent, second-level satellite to a great Chinese colossus? Are we Americans prepared to play Britain to a post-WWII America? And is it likely that China is prepared to be so benign a giant as we have been -- and are?
Assuming that most Americans are adamantly not willing to roll over into a national economic fetal position, then certain implications, certain actions must follow from our intent to remain on our hind legs, strong right arms uplifted to the world. And it begins with the current deficit fight.
First, and most obviously, we actually have to have this fight. It is economically naive to believe that we can continue to be the world's strongest, largest economy if we don't soon get our fiscal books in order. Moreover, huge and painful as that task will be, it will not assure our economic strength -- it is merely one of several necessary preconditions to such economic health.
It also is naive to believe it possible for about $10 trillion to be taken out of anticipated federal budgets (and perhaps a trillion or more dollars out of the 50 state budgets) over the next decade without beneficiaries of such spending not organizing to defend their pots of gold. We see a first example of this in Wisconsin, where the public employee unions are going beyond both law and decency in their furious effort to keep a grip on their bounty.
It is not enough that we get our deficits and debt down -- it centrally matters how we do it. This agonizing national civic task either can be: 1) merely the "tiresome squabbles of discontented affluence" (economic historian Adam Tooze's phrase describing post-war Western European politics); or 2) a new birth of economic greatness. For those who don't want to assume a national economic fetal position, this budget fight must lead to the latter.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.