The administration is continuing to pursue an agenda of military engagement in the middle east, while the Republicans are talking about balancing the budget by cutting back on spending at home, ranging from education to infrastructure to medical care and social security. Neither of these are the right agenda. The right agenda is to quit trying to pay off Pakistan and get out, to leave Iraq, to leave our bases in the rest of the middle east, and to pull out of Afghanistan. The whole enterprise is a waste of American treasure. And where will our departure leade? It will undercut the whole message of the Muslim extremists and open the door for the young people of the region to do what they have been longing to do from the beginning: embrace western values. Only when we quit fighting will we win.
In our own country, we need to reconceive how the government gives the economy support. The bank bailouts started by Bush and continued by Obama were never the right answer. What should have been done was to extend FDIC guarantees to the securitized mortgages. This would have meant that they would have regained value and the credit default swaps would never have come due. Lehman Brothers and AIG would never have needed a bailout. Absorbing the inevitable defaults among those mortgages would have been far less expensive than doing what was done, which was essentially to buy them all from the banks.
We need to ALWAYS find ways to do what is needed without throwing money at it, and there is almost always a way to do this. An example of what was done right is the motor bailout. This is because the government tied intelligent demands for industry reform to the loans it extended. As a result, GM and Chrysler finally started making cars that are competitive with import offerings, and are enjoying a resurgence of buyers as a result. And they are rapidly paying off their loans, and the government, in the end, will make a profit on the deal. Not to mention that the collapse of the two companies would have led to over a million job losses.
Only by following the middle way of creative thinking and intelligent compromise are we going to remain a great country. We should not listen to either the left or the right. They do not have the answers, not a left that offers only more regulation and more complication, and a right whose prescription for change will destroy our infrastructure here at home and turn this into a third world country.
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