May 10, 2011
Today, I am excited to announce the release of The Heritage Foundation’s comprehensive agenda that sets a new course for the size and scope of the federal government. The new report, “Saving the American Dream: Heritage’s Plan to Fix the Debt, Cut Spending, and Restore Prosperity,” lays out specific policy recommendations in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, the tax code and federal spending. Saving the American Dream envisions real solutions for staving off America’s potential decline while strengthening the economy for current and future generations.
We are doing this because we have come to a time of decision in America. For far too long, Congress has been on an unsustainable binge of spending, taxing, and borrowing. Our nation is going broke, and we are passing the costs of these misguided policies to our children and their children.
Over time, our national government has become bloated, overextended and unrestrained, oblivious of its core functions, operating far beyond its means and vastly outside of its proper constitutional bounds. Unchecked, the course we are on now will cripple our economy, undermine our prosperity, and lead to fiscal insolvency. By robbing the future of opportunity and freedom, it will destroy the American Dream for future generations.
Already, we are living through the shame of being publicly lectured by our Communist Chinese creditors, who have contempt for our profligacy. The day it was announced that Standard and Poor’s had lowered the outlook on our economy, a collective gasp went through the international community. If our elected leaders keep it up, we are certain to face financial crises like Greece or Portugal.
America is on the verge of becoming a country in decline—economically stagnant and permanently debtbound, heavily regulated and bureaucratic, less self-governing and less free.
But this fate does not have to be our future. We can get spending under control, balance the budget, and shrink our debt. We can limit the size of government and set free once again the unlimited genius of Americans to create wealth and jobs. We can turn the tide and change our nation’s course.
Saving the American Dream is our plan to fix the debt, cut spending and, above all, restore prosperity. It balances the nation’s budget within a decade—and keeps it balanced. It reduces the debt and cuts government in half. It eliminates government-mandated health care and fully funds our national defense. In order to get our fiscal house in order, we must address Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, the three so-called entitlement programs which together account for 43 percent of federal spending today. Far too many seniors still lack enough help to avoid poverty. Saving the American Dream therefore does not end these programs; instead it focuses them on those who need them.
Our plan also encourages Americans to become more fiscally responsible themselves. It redesigns our entire tax system into an expenditure tax that will have a single flat rate. This is a structure that will promote savings, therefore benefiting individual Americans, our body politic, and the economy. Greater savings mean stronger capital formation and thus a more robust economy, which means real jobs for Americans.
This plan substantially reduces the size and scope of the federal government, fundamentally increases the role of the states in choosing their own practices, and brings decision-making closer to the people rather than unelected administrators. These are crucial steps that will get our nation on a path of fiscal, political, and constitutional responsibility. It is part of our larger effort to get our country back on track, reclaim its truths, conserve its liberating principles, and build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.
At the end of the day our plan, while economic in nature, has a higher moral purpose. If entitlements are not reformed, the next generation and future ones will have to pay punitive tax rates that will end liberty as we have known it. Our proposal aims to preserve America’s promise bequeathed to us by past generations.
Edmund Burke reminds us to think of our time on this earth not as an individual and temporary event, but rather as a partnership “between those who are living, those who are dead and those who are yet to be born.” Keeping faith with this partnership is what we aim to do with Saving the American Dream.
We have been here before, and every time the American people have always risen to the occasion and seized the moment. In 1776 we were told that no upstart colonists could defeat the strongest nation in the world, and we decided to change the course of history. In 1860 we were told the Union could not hold and that America was over, and we brought forth a new birth of freedom. In 1980 we were told that the American century was at an end, and we launched a great economic expansion, rebuilt our military, and revived our national spirit.
Hard times demand tough choices. The future of our nation is at stake.
All that is required, as my hero Ronald Reagan once said, is “our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.”
Together, let us seize the moment, change our country’s course, and save the American Dream.