Washington, D.C., August 20, 2011 – Just recently, the United States found itself on the verge of financial crisis. Both parties have proposed several plans, yet both houses of Congress and the President took until the last minute to agree on a solution. Moody has even announced that it is unlikely that any plan will prevent a downgrade.
While an immediate crisis looms, the U.S. also finds itself facing a crossroads about what type of nation it will be in the long-term.
The U.S. could end up as a nation that no longer has any money to borrow. It may have to beg international organizations for a bailout. The U.S. could run out of money to fund essential parts of its government and lead to massive unrest amongst its citizens. America could end up like Greece.
The U.S. could instead turn into a nation that demands twenty five percent cuts in every government department, including welfare and defense departments. America could eliminate a record number of government workers. It could institute necessary tax increases. America could have a balanced budget. Liberals and Conservatives could compromise on a debt solution. The U.S. could become England.
All three countries now find themselves in terrible situations. The three nations’ governments promised their citizens more than they could provide. They all have constantly avoided making tough decisions to appease their electorates. As a result all now face crippling debt that threatens their future.
Only one country has made the tough decisions needed to avoid disaster. While I wish I could say it was the U.S., it is indeed Britain. These decisions did not come out of nowhere. They came from the conservative Prime Minister David Cameron making difficult decisions and instituting reforms the country had never seen before.
Cameron skipped out on partisan politics and instituted policies both favored and hated by his party. While tax increases may not seem conservative, he reached a balanced budget by combining tax increases with unpopular spending cuts. He demanded cuts cross the board, including social programs that liberals love and defense spending, which conservatives care deeply about. He even closed tax loop holes and raised the capital gains tax.
Now I am certainly am not saying Britain has all of the answers. The debt crisis is far too difficult to just apply everything Britain did to America. I have opposed nearly all of the tax increases in the debt ceiling debate and feel the government needs to reform rather than simply cut defense spending. In addition, it should be noted that Greece had far greater debt than Britain. Greece’s debt was 125 percent of its GDP, while Britain’s debt was only 70 percent of its GDP.
However, Britain’s courage and Greece’s lack of courage, shows what the U.S. will need to do to fight the debt crisis. Britain tackled their debt crisis before their debt got as big as Greece’s debt. America’s politicians must take note and make changes in every government program including entitlement and defense spending. They will need to consider tax increases. Both parties must realize that they cannot get 100 percent of what they want.
Ronald Reagan understood this. Reagan governed as a conservative by putting his country first. He constantly made deals with House Speaker Tip O’Neil. In 1981, he even promised not to campaign against Southern Democrats who supported his budget.
Right now only a few politicians have been willing to do this. Paul Ryan was willing to tackle entitlements. In response, liberal groups ran ads that portrayed him as a man wanting to push grandma off a cliff. Tom Coburn opened the debate on tax increases, only to be vilified as a traitor to the conservative movement.
The courage of these few politicians and the opposition they face show the crossroads that America is at. If people like Ryan prevail, America will get back on the road to prosperity and will preserve the American dream. If people continue to only try to score political points then we have Greece’s future to look forward to.
Todd Carney is a student at American University and is Vice President of the Young Transatlantic Conservative Alliance.