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The ideological battle for America’s future

January 5, 2022

Guest article by David M. Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States

Record levels of illegal immigration at America’s southern border serve as a reminder of the magnet the U.S. is for those seeking liberty, opportunity, safety, and security from around the world. Many of these immigrants come from countries with serious economic and domestic security problems, including several socialist and communist countries. 

While many people talk about the partisan divide in Congress, in my view, our greater challenge is the growing ideological divide and the relative absence of a “sensible center” in the Congress. Fortunately, the bipartisan House “Problem Solvers Caucus” and the new and unprecedented bipartisan “Bicameral Group,” both of which are supported by No Labels of which I am a Co-Founder, represent islands of reason and responsibility. These groups were key drivers in achieving passage of the recent physical infrastructure legislation. However, the members of these groups are subject to tremendous pressure from their respective leaders to vote along party lines. This pressure increases considerably when margins are small, and the next election can bring a change of control in one or both houses of the Congress. 

From an ideological perspective, it seems increasingly clear that some in Congress are pushing an agenda that closely parallels the principles of socialism. These principles include growing the size of government, increasing dependence on government, taking control of education and health care, ignoring increasing deficits and mounting debt burdens, and increasing levels of taxation to fuel the continued growth in government and reduce the need to cut future spending levels. 

These socialist state principles are in stark contrast to our nation’s founding principles. They include a limited but effective federal government, federalism, individual liberty and opportunity, personal responsibility and accountability, rule of law, fiscal responsibility, inter-generational equity, and stewardship. 

From a fiscal and monetary policy perspective, the new Modern Monetary Theory is consistent with these socialist state principles. It states that deficits and debt levels do not matter if you can borrow in your own reserve currency unless and until you have excess inflation. This theory is contrary to history and long-established economic principles, is based on a flawed comparison to Japan, and is downright dangerous. Nonetheless, it has recently been employed and some want to continue to employ it. However, the U.S. is now facing excess inflation which needs to be addressed. In fact, inflation has become a top concern among American voters. 

It is time to recognize reality. Failure to put our nation’s finances in order will likely result in slower economic growth, higher inflation, much higher taxes, less national security and diplomatic influence, significant reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits, greater societal gaps, and less domestic tranquility in the future. These are not desirable outcomes. 

It is time for the Congress to take concrete steps to restore fiscal responsibility and sustainability. We need a Fiscal Responsibility Constitutional Amendment that will force a reduction in public debt/GDP to a reasonable and sustainable level over time. In addition, Congress should form a credible statutory commission that will engage the American people and key groups on our fiscal challenge, solicit input, and make a package of reform recommendations that will be guaranteed a vote in Congress. 

America is not perfect, and it never will be. We have overcome past immoralities and inequities by banning slavery, allowing women to vote and own property, expanding civil rights, and adopting selected social safety nets. We have made considerable progress but more remains to be done. 

We must remember that America is a beacon of liberty and opportunity in the world for a reason. If we want to be able to remain a superpower and a beacon and magnet for the world, we need recognize and address the ideological battle that we currently face. In my view, we should reject socialist state principles and be true to the founding principles that made America great. At the same time, we need to continue to fight to form a more perfect Union over time. 

David M. Walker

Former U.S. Comptroller General

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