The first insidious force is the assured destruction of our nation’s economic infrastructure that will be caused by the oppressive income tax code, the dysfunctional Social Security system and unsustainable levels of federal spending. The second is the unwillingness in Congress to fix these known threats to our economy. The third is a public too apathetic about the political process and too reluctant to demand solutions from our elected officials.
We are well aware of the threats posed to our national security by Islamic terrorists from without. President Bush’s October 6 speech reminded us of the numerous worldwide terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001, in places such as London, Bali and even Egypt. The recently released letter from al Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri to al Qaeda’s Iraqi commander Abu Musab al Zarqawi is a clear reminder that though the worldwide Islamic terror network has been disrupted by our military presence in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, the terrorists remain resolute in their goal to destroy Western civilization.
Our nation’s national economic security is under attack, yet too many of our elected officials are cowering in the corners of Capitol Hill, unwilling to protect the pillars of our economic infrastructure.
The president and a handful of Congressional Republicans this year have proposed numerous responsible solutions to restructure the Social Security system. Most Republicans, however, lack the political will to fix this crumbling program. Congressional Democrats continue to offer no solutions of their own and refuse to even acknowledge the problem.
In the weeks following the destruction wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the president and Congressional Republicans have engaged in a public debate over both the proper levels of spending needed to invest in hurricane cleanup, and the proper cuts in discretionary spending needed to offset the cleanup costs. Unfortunately, House Republican leaders appear ready to abandon an offset proposal to enact across-the-board cuts in fiscal year 2006 discretionary spending.
Just last week, the president’s Tax Reform Panel released preliminary indications of what their final proposals will include. Americans who hoped for a comprehensive overhaul of our destructive tax code were sorely disappointed. The proposals include a cavalier dismissal of a national retail sales tax, and tax increases brought about by capping some deduction limits. This new stanza of “sneak-a-taxes” will only increase taxpayer confusion and make the tax code worse for everybody.
The worldwide threats of terrorism are not going away, nor are the threats to our national economic security caused by the dysfunctional Social Security system, the stifling income tax code and reckless federal spending. Other immediate threats include the new Medicare prescription drug entitlement and rapidly rising energy prices.
Political pundits often refer to any attempt to fix the sacred cow entitlement programs, replace the income tax code or alter environmental regulations that constrain our oil supply “courageous.” Doing your job as a member of Congress is not courageous. Fighting terrorists where terrorists live is courageous. If showing up to vote a few times each week and attending fundraisers are now considered courageous, the expectations for our elected officials are frightfully low. Too many members of Congress appear more afraid of losing the next election than protecting the next generation. Many of the same members are missing in action when the president or one of their colleagues suggests we take the steps necessary to protect our nation’s economic security.
The direct threats to our national economic security come from moderate House and Senate Republicans who are too afraid to lead, and just as afraid to follow the leadership of conservatives who propose responsible solutions. The direct threats also come from nearly every Congressional Democrat. The majority of Congressional Democrats are too willing to stand on the sidelines of political debate and then obstruct the president on his every proposal.
Maybe those inside the Beltway can not see what those of us outside of Washington, D.C. see every day. Namely, divisiveness and a lack of leadership in Congress will eventually cause the destruction of our economy from within. When the pillars of our economic infrastructure finally topple under the weight of our own complacency and divisiveness, the terrorists will have achieved one of their goals.
General MacArthur’s concern over fifty years ago is even greater today, because those insidious forces have multiplied to compound the unsolved threats. If we the people remain careless and negligent by not demanding responsible fiscal leadership from our members of Congress, we will only hasten the demise of our economic infrastructure. We must hold our members of Congress accountable every day, not just on Election Day, or their inaction will surely destroy us from within.