He has been aggressive at cutting defense spending (with more steep cuts slated to take effect in March under “sequestration”), but has offered no plan for getting the nation’s runaway entitlement spending under control. This in spite of the fact that President Obama promised in 2009 to tackle entitlement reform in his first term. In the ensuing years, the fiscal picture for Social Security and Medicare has only grown worse — yet the president quietly abandoned efforts to reform those bloated programs.
The benefits of restraining federal spending would be numerous. Restoring some semblance of sanity to the federal budget would send a clear signal of stability to the business community and world markets, which would ease the uncertainty that weighs on the economy.
Restraining runaway growth in Social Security and Medicare would ensure that these overburdened programs will be able to provide benefits to future generations of taxpayers.
And reducing the threat of debt would ensure that the U.S. is able to continue meeting its obligations as the world’s guarantor of peace, security and freedom. But is the president prepared to take on such a mighty challenge? Based on his past performance, I’m not reassured.
President Obama has a lamentable tendency to approach every major speech occasion as if it were another campaign appearance. Witness his second inaugural address last month, in which he referred to the deficit only once, in passing, before going on to talk about further spending. One expects he’ll take a similar approach in his 2013 State of the Union address.
What a missed opportunity that will be. If the president really wants to rise above the current political impasse, it’s time to lead by tackling our spending problem. Sending a clear message Tuesday about how he intends to do that would be a good first step.
Pete Hegseth is the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, and the former executive director of Vets for Freedom. Pete is an infantry officer in the Army National Guard, and has served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.