For a Congress with such dismally low approval ratings in the minds of the American people, it is an inscrutable circumstance that all three leading presidential candidates are themselves members of that Congress. How does that happen when approximately 80 percent of U.S. voters hold Congress in such disdain?
Currently, and for the past year, the chief topic of these presidential campaigns is the state of the economy. Little discussion ensues on matters like energy independence, Social Security sustainability, secure national borders, consumer safety of imported products, taxes, illegal immigration, judicial appointments for the Supreme Court, etc.
Curiously, the economy that is the target of such gloom and doom observations from the candidates draws more reasoned opinions from quite a few respected economists. Transitional economies are always cyclical, and the $14 trillion U.S. economy continues to be larger than the next four largest economies (Japan, Germany, China and Britain) combined. Recently, syndicated writer George Will noted that “Russia’s economy is about the size of New York’s and Arizona’s combined; India’s is about half the size of California’s.”
While acknowledging that the U.S. is experiencing an economic downturn, economist and business writer Donald Lambro writes that while we do have a downturn, it is not a recession. According to Lambro, the economy’s fundamentals are performing quite well for the most part.
Specific sectors are suffering job loss – the auto industry in Michigan and manufacturing in Ohio. Housing nationwide is another variable in the economic slowdown. But steps are being taken to positively impact this variable. Recent mortgage rates have fallen significantly. Lambro and other prominent economists believe that our economy turned the corner into 2008 with some strong fundamentals to get through the downturn faster: falling interest rates, strong export sales, strong corporate earnings, relatively low tax rates, low unemployment and a resilient economic infrastructure.
While Americans have been subjected to an excess of economic hot air by politicians lately, there are reasons to be optimistic. Tax increases, redistribution of income, threatening to “fight” companies that are breaking no laws – these do not make an economy run. Lower taxes, less regulation and more economic rewards for performance make an economy run.
A recent letter from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to Heritage Foundation members reminds that President Reagan “re-taught us the economic principles which underpin our prosperity. He knew that lower taxes and greater economic freedoms brought boundless opportunity and increased wealth. And he knew that helping people to help themselves was better than state planning and regulation.”
The three leading candidates are full-fledged members of a Congress that is hostile to the free market. Listen to what they say and beware of evasion and hot air.
Another Reagan reminder from the 1980s: “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.” This idea is particularly relevant to economic freedom. We need to engage our candidates on responses to other exigent issues over the next few months, particularly those related to the No. 1 constitutional duty of the federal government to provide for the nation’s security.
Give the economy a rest and time to correct itself.