Washington has run trillion-dollar deficits for four consecutive years now. Publicly held debt topped $10 trillion at the end of last year — nearly 70 percent of the economy. We’re headed for a Grecian style disaster.
America must change course. That’s the message of the Values Bus tour. A joint project of The Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council, the Values Bus recently stopped in St. Louis. I was onboard to talk about Saving the American Dream, Heritage’s proposal to solve the nation’s spending and debt crisis.
Our plan reins in federal spending… at last! It gets Washington out of the business of micromanaging the daily lives of families and businesses. Most importantly, it transforms entitlement programs — the major drivers of future spending and deficits — into affordable, sustainable programs that meet human needs.
The plan strengthens these programs so that retirees will have true economic security. Unlike today, where benefits leave too many seniors below the poverty level, Social Security will insure that no senior has to live in poverty. And a reformed Medicare program assures seniors they need not fear bankruptcy due to catastrophic illness.
Under our plan, Medicare shifts to a premium support program. With financial assistance where necessary, seniors will be free to purchase the health coverage that best meets their needs. Competition for their business will drive down insurance and health care costs. And those seniors who wish to stay in traditional Medicare can do so. Social Security moves slowly toward providing a flat benefit — above the poverty level — like real insurance.
The plan reins in federal spending across the board, rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. It returns some functions to the states where decisions are better made and turns other functions over to the private sector where they properly belong. And it pulls the plug on programs that aren’t pulling their weight.
Budgets mean setting priorities. So the plan fully funds the nation’s defense needs — one of the few constitutional duties of the federal government. Yes, there is waste and inefficiency to squeeze from the Defense Department, but those savings are used to modernize our forces.
Saving the American Dream will boost economic growth and balance the budget in under 10 years — without raising taxes. It then starts lowering the debt, easing the crushing financial obligations now imposed on our children and grandchildren.
The proposal is gaining traction in Washington. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced it this month as a budget resolution, and the Senate is expected to vote on it soon.
Yes, tough decisions are needed to get the nation back on track. It won’t happen overnight. That’s why the Values Bus will keep rolling: to make sure Americans outside Washington can participate fully in the debate.