November elections do or die for American prosperity

The great political issue of our time is the size and reach of government. Both locally and nationally, we face a choice of two different visions and two different directions for Florida and the country. November brings an election about big things, not small things.

Our country has achieved magnificently throughout its history. But staying the current course means looking at American exceptionalism in the rearview mirror. The path we are on now means abandoning our lofty status as world leader and guiding beacon. Our current political leaders can’t even steer America’s ship through troubled waters, much less other nations’ ships. The current path requires resigning ourselves to a diminished America.

The coming election is mostly about choosing politicians who will push either to expand or contract government. The left needs an expanded government to enact its social agenda. The right wants a limited government that performs only essential functions the private sector is not equipped to handle. The stakes are the kind of future world you will live in, as the left’s moral relativism dukes it out with the right’s American exceptionalism.

South Florida party labels aside, if you like the idea of expanding government, then follow the path staked out by Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy. If you want less government, hike the trail with Adam Hasner and Allen West.

If you prefer safety nets for all the challenges of life, more borrowing to finance entitlements and “equal outcomes,” go with the left. If you embrace personal responsibility, spending within your means and “equal opportunities,” go with the right.

Politicians in this election are being forced to decide which government functions are crucial, and which can be dropped or handed to the private sector. Nowhere are the differences starker than in the presidential race. This election will answer the question, What kind of country do we want to have?

The current picture is alarming. The feds borrow 40 cents of every dollar they spend. The federal government’s true debt is either $60.9 trillion or $51 trillion, depending on whether you believe the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Management Services report or the Social Security Administration and U.S. Department of Health. Either figure includes the current $16 trillion bond debt and unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, retired federal employees and veterans.

The U.S. Labor Force Participation Rate — the percentage of Americans working — has continued to fall during the last three years of economic “recovery.” The Wall Street Journal names the culprit as “the multiple years of weak job growth,” including the unemployed who have stopped looking for work.

Finally, we are slowly awakening to the horrors of the “fiscal cliff” that arrives on Jan. 1. That’s when tax rates will get hiked upon the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, the tax on dividends will triple, the capital gains tax rate will see a near 60 percent increase, personal income tax rates hitting small business will experience a 20 percent increase, and more. After a five-year spending binge and $5 trillion in new debt, the federales now want to impose austerity on the private economy with tax increases.

Surveying America’s future prospects, we can’t stand the costs any longer, because too many in the political class are digging the hole deeper. We’re going the wrong way. We’re digging down instead of out. It’s like a fireman trying to drown a fire with gasoline.

We are a nation scrambling to regain our confidence and optimism. There are few decisions that Florida and the country will make that are more important than when Americans mark their November ballots. With a course correction, we still have time to make sure our best days are still ahead.

John R. Smith GET AUTHOR RSS FEED

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company. He is a frequent columnist for BizPac Review.
John R. Smith

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