Tony Blankley

President Lincoln in January 1863 transformed the Civil War from merely an attempt to hold the union together (a good and important thing) into "a new birth of freedom" with his Emancipation Proclamation. By expressing the national intent to free the African-American slaves, he directly connected the war with our first (incomplete) birth of freedom -- the Revolutionary War. It may not be a coincidence that within ten years of that "new birth of freedom", America became the largest economy in the world -- a condition we have maintained to this day.

So today, we must not only fight the war to bring the deficit and debt under control; we must do so in a way that strengthens our economy vis-a-vis China and the other aggressive economies (Brazil, India, etc.).

Fundamentally, that means not only reducing our spending, but doing so in a way that increases the proportion of government money and policies going to capital investment, and reducing the amount that subsidizes operating costs. It not only means reducing anticipated spending on Medicare and Medicaid, but probably means getting more of the precious dollars to improve the health of our soon-to-be-productive children, even if it means spending fewer tax dollars on the end-of-life care of elderly people.

Justice, fairness and equity (despite the desirability of gaining such objectives) cannot be the primary guides to spending decisions. The guide must be: What makes our economy more competitive; what increases American manufacturing, mining, commercial construction and intellectual property value; what increases our domestic energy production; what puts the most productive tools in the hands of our children; what trains our children to economically compete and defeat the able children around the world; and what is needed to keep us militarily strong enough to protect our interests?

By way of example on the latter point, last week, our storied sixth naval fleet that for 65 years has maintained the Mediterranean Sea as an American lake, could not muster a single destroyer, frigate or other modest naval ship to save a few hundred Americans stranded in Libya. The State Department had to rent a ferry that was not seaworthy to do the job. The whole world is watching -- and drawing its cruel conclusions. And you can be assured that China, too, is watching.

If you doubt it, read the excellent book review in this week's Weekly Standard of Yoshihara & Holmes groundbreaking new scholarly book "Red Star Over the Pacific: China's Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy."

Before we conclude that the defense budget "must take its fair share" of cuts, we should understand that it is not the Pentagon that will be hurt -- it is 300 million Americans and our economy that is threatened by a weak military and Navy that cannot protect our interests. Where cuts can be made because of inefficiencies, such as in procurements -- excellent.

But whether it is in education (where unionized workforce rules protect the destructive work of the worst 10 percent of teachers) or health care, or military spending -- the watchword for budget cuts should be what is best for America's continued and expanding economic greatness -- whatever its short-term consequences.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

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.

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