Why Aren’t We Listening?

Former OMB Director and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels explains how Washington is robbing younger Americans of their chance to achieve the American Dream


In a insightful op-ed published last week in the Wall Street Journal, entitled Washington’s Wake-Up Call, Mr. Daniels noted that our federal debt is at record levels and that we must soon choose between growth, as Sweden did when facing similar circumstances, or the disastrous path taken by Greece, ending in a loss of sovereignty, default, and economic malaise.  Mr. Daniels rightly argues for growth and reduced borrowing.

As we have done for the last year, Mr. Daniels sounded the alarm over debt-fueled spending on Social Security and Medicare and the massive annual interest payments on the debt, noting that these expenditures are squeezing out all other federal spending, such as spending on infrastructure, scientific research, and the environment.  Like David Walker and other federal budget experts, Mr. Daniels noted that this combination of under-investment and excessive debt is dragging down economic growth.

In language that echoes the ethos of 2040 Matters, Mr. Daniels noted that the current budget environment in Washington is “immoral,” as it is predicated upon “intergenerational injustice.”  To paraphrase Mr. Daniels, we are handing younger Americans a large “bill” and simultaneously robbing them of the means to pay it.  As we have argued previously, this violates the very duty underlying the American Dream – that each generation owes the next a duty to leave the country in better shape than they found it.

Another day. Another wake-up call (seemingly) ignored. In a country full of people who profess to care deeply about their grandchildren and their children, we can only ask: “Why aren’t we listening?”

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