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August 26, 2010

America at a Crossroad: Where do We Go From Here?


Americans are at a crossroads. Numerous economic indicators show that our economy is in a serious recession. Most polls confirm Americans disapprove of Congress. The president’s approval ratings are only slightly better.

Of course, Barack Obama and his allies in Congress continue to extol the virtues of their policies. “Change” is on its way, they say. In the meantime, the federal government has grown exponentially, while runaway spending only adds to our national deficit.

There’s a better way. Policymakers could carve out a new path, using fresh ideas to meet today’s needs while simultaneously reducing the size and cost of our federal government. Americans could hold elected officials accountable, as the Founding Fathers intended.

The way forward is neatly charted in a recently released Heritage Foundation report entitled “Solutions for America.” (You can read the entire report at http://www.heritage.org/research/projects/solutions-for-america.)

More than a dozen experts in their respective fields contributed ideas and programs. And while not every one of the ideas contained in the report is new, together they offer a clear break from our current government’s failed policies.

The report shines a spotlight on what Congress is not doing.

For example, lawmakers from both parties have failed to reform expensive government programs. Specifically, Congress has ignored the rising cost of three entitlements: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Despite clear demographic changes (people living longer lives), Congress is allowing these government programs to run on auto-pilot. Left unchecked, they’ll eventually account for almost every dollar our government spends in the decades to come.

Since first taking office, President Obama has overseen a spending spree of close to $1 trillion, and yet our national unemployment rate hovers around double digits. Many in Congress remain convinced that we need to spend even more money to get out of this rut.

Let’s be clear. Hispanics immigrated to this country because America is different. We know what failed economic policies look like; we need only look to the countries we left behind. We know that labor unions often stifle ingenuity, as is the case in Mexico where teachers’ unions continue to claim victories for their members at the expense of students.

Unfortunately, this country seems to be on parallel track these days, as runaway spending threatens our economic prosperity.

Equally unfortunate is our community’s continued support for President Obama’s failed economic policies. Although the presidential approving rate among Hispanics has receded, a majority of us continue to believe that the president is doing a good job.

Americans have found themselves at a crossroads before. As my colleague Matthew Spalding writes, “That is why all the great turning-point elections in U.S. history ultimately came down to a debate about the meaning and trajectory of America.”

As part of the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, Hispanics have an especially important role in deciding what country we want to live in. It’s imperative that we seize this opportunity.

Israel Ortega is a Spanish Media Associate at The Heritage Foundation

First appeared in The Americano

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