Some sage ad­vice on the sober­ing state of the na­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

You might sup­pose that a po­lit­i­cal book, ap­pear­ing less than six months af­ter In­di­ana Gov. Mitch Daniels in­di­cated that he would not run for pres­i­dent, must have been writ­ten as a cam­paign prop. But that’s not Daniels’ style. “Keep­ing the Repub­lic” is a deadly se­ri­ous, though fre­quently witty, ef­fort to lay be­fore the Amer­i­can peo­ple the per­ilous state of the na­tion.

Be pre­pared, the first few pages of Chap­ter 2 can turn your blood to ice. Amer­ica’s de­cline, Daniels writes, may not be a grad­ual slide, but in­stead a sud­den plunge into chaos. Sketch­ing what a fi­nan­cial col­lapse could look like if we fail to con­trol our debt, he writes, “Mon­day, 6 a.m.--a Chi­nese of­fi­cial is­sues a state­ment say­ing that China will no longer be buy­ing Trea­sury se­cu­ri­ties be­cause ‘we see no ev­i­dence that the U.S. will take the steps nec­es­sary to grow its econ­omy or limit its spend­ing so it can af­ford to re­pay’ . . . Mon­day 9:30 a.m., the dol­lar drops 10 per­cent . . . New York stock mar­ket opens in free fall . . . Mon­day af­ter­noon, . . . other na­tions’ cen­tral banks be­gin to sell off U.S. Trea­suries. . .”

It con­tin­ues that way, with runs on banks, the dol­lar spi­ral­ing down, the Dow Jones crash­ing, Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Pe­tro­leum Ex­port­ing Coun­tries, OPEC, de­nom­i­nat­ing oil in some­thing other than dol­lars, long gas lines, buy­ing pan­ics for ne­ces­si­ties like food, short­ages of consumer goods, and fi­nally civil un­rest and mar­tial law.

It’s a chill­ing night­mare sce- nario, but un­for­tu­nately, not far-fetched. The col­lapse might not hap­pen ex­actly that way, but un­less we are able to re­duce our debt and take steps to get our econ­omy grow­ing rapidly, some form of fi­nan­cial cri­sis is in­evitable. “This is not a mat­ter of opinion based on a pref­er­ence for lim­ited govern­ment,” writes Daniels. “It’s a bru­tally ob­jec­tive fact of life . . .For to­day, can we agree that the arith­metic here does not work?”

In light of the fuss over Gov. Perry’s use of the term “Ponzi scheme,” it’s in­struc­tive to see Daniels’ de­scrip­tion of the en­ti­tle­ment mess (which he too calls a Ponzi scheme): “For 70 years, Amer­i­cans were mis­led to be­lieve that they had been putting money aside for their own re­tire­ment, that there were ac­tual as­sets be­ing held some­where that would pro­vide for them in their golden years. This mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion has been aptly named ‘the no­ble lie’ . . . (In fact), the pro­posed fu­ture ben­e­fits grotesquely out­strip the fu­ture taxes we are sched­uled to pay by some $5.4 tril­lion for So­cial Se­cu­rity and as much as $46 tril­lion for Medi­care.”

A fi­nan­cial col­lapse would mean not just eco­nomic dis­tress dwarf­ing what we’ve lived through for the past three years, but also the end of our world lead­er­ship. “It’s pretty much an iron rule of his­tory that no one fol­lows a pau­per.”

Daniels has con­crete and spe­cific pro­pos­als about how we can ex­tri­cate our­selves from the quick­sand, but on the way there, draw­ing upon his ex­pe­ri­ence in the pri­vate sec­tor as well as his two terms as gov­er­nor, he shreds the pre­ten­sions of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. Re­viv­ing the pri­vate sec­tor must be the high­est pri­or­ity un­til the “Red Men­ace” of debt is tamed, Daniels ar­gues. So

When he was asked how In­di­ana over­came a $700 mil­lion deficit Daniels told a reporter, “Pre­pare to be daz­zled. We spent less than we took in.”

why does Pres­i­dent Obama en­cour­age young peo­ple, in word and deed, to be­come govern­ment em­ploy­ees or to work for non-prof­its? “Where ex­actly is the money to pay for all those teach­ers, so­cial work­ers and com­mu­nity ac­tivists sup­posed to come from? . . . An­other sim­ple rule: no prof­its, no non­prof­its.”

When he was asked how In­di­ana over­came a $700 mil­lion deficit Daniels told a reporter, “Pre­pare to be daz­zled. We spent less than we took in.”

In a few swift strokes, the In­di­ana gov­er­nor demon­strates ex­actly why Oba­macare is an eco­nomic, so­cial and fis­cal dis­as­ter, hugely ex­ac­er­bat­ing all of the ex­ist­ing prob­lems with health care de­liv­ery in the United States and in­fan­tiliz­ing ev­ery cit­i­zen.

You can tell that this is not and never was a cam­paign book be­cause it’s not about Daniels. Yes, he has spe­cific ideas. He would per­mit the ex­ploita­tion of Amer­ica’s un­tapped en­ergy sup­plies thereby cre­at­ing pri­vate sec­tor jobs, keep­ing prices down and deny­ing funds to ter­ror spon­sors around the globe. He fa­vors a rad­i­cal sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of the tax code, an eco­nomic im­pact eval­u­a­tion of all reg­u­la­tions, a neg­a­tive in­come tax to re­place the skein of over­lap­ping wel­fare pro­grams and thor­ough­go­ing re­form of So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medi­care.

But the real mes­sage of the book is the author’s con­fi­dence that Amer­i­cans still have the good sense and strength of char­ac­ter to make the right de­ci­sions. The first of those should be to buy and read, “Keep­ing the Repub­lic.”

Mona Charen is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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