Every election, we're told, is important. Critical, even. But it's more than the usual hyperbole this time.
Right now, our nation's on the wrong path. If nothing is done, our
next generation will experience not liberty, freedom and prosperity, but
crushing debt, higher taxes, and job-killing regulations.
Unlike any generation before us, we face the very real possibility
that our grandchildren may be worse off than their grandparents.
But a comprehensive program that we at The Heritage Foundation have
developed, "Saving the American Dream," shows how we can preserve the
First, the budget problem must be addressed. Left alone, entitlement
programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and their
unfunded liabilities will cripple the nation.
Reforms to entitlement programs, health insurance, and the federal
tax code under Heritage's plan would balance the budget within 10 years,
and keep it balanced -- not with tax hikes, but with serious cuts in
Next is debt. Currently, the federal debt is 70 percent of the
economy and rising. By the early 2020s, debt would amount to 100 percent
That's why each of my three grandchildren has a $200,000 + mortgage
-- with no home attached to it. This share of the unfunded liabilities
of entitlements will be used to pay for the benefits of my wife and me.
It's morally and financially irresponsible to have debt like this.
The Heritage plan cuts the nation's debt to 30 percent of GDP by
2035, and puts it on a downward path. This helps to guarantee that
future generations will not be drowned by debt, and the interest costs
that come with it.
Big government is another problem. The role of the federal
government has been expanded vastly in recent years. The Heritage plan
calls for a major realignment of the federal government, reducing it to
about one about half its currently projected size within 25 years.
Our plan focuses on eliminating the federal government's
micromanagement of our economy that should be dealt with on a state or
local level -- or, better yet, by the private sector.
Redundant and wasteful programs are eliminated completely, while
other responsibilities are granted to the states with greater
flexibility. And those functions that the private sector performs better
would be removed from the grasp of planners in Washington.
Speaking of the private sector: If we expect it to expand
significantly any time soon, we must be sure that government isn't
standing in its way. Scheduled tax increases discourage business from
expanding, push existing business overseas, and stop startups,
especially among the most creative small-business sectors.
The complicated and unfair tax code would be changed under the
Heritage plan, and replaced with a simplified, flat-tax rate system. The
new rate is expected to be roughly 27 percent to achieve the revenue
goal. And it would fold Social Security, Medicare and all other federal
taxes into the single-rate income tax.
This proposed system would reward savings, offer greater wealth
creation, and empower Americans to take charge of their financial
As for Social Security and Medicare, the Heritage plan strengthens
and preserves these programs by scaling back benefits for the most
affluent seniors and focusing help on those who truly need it.
Heritage's reforms mean seniors would no longer have to fear living
in poverty or facing financial ruin due to catastrophic health care
Lastly, the savings-oriented design of Heritage's fiscal plan helps
working families save and create more wealth by avoiding double taxation
of savings. It encourages a growing economy.
"Saving the American Dream" will help Americans become less dependent
on the government for maintaining their standard of living, and become
Ronald Reagan had a plaque on his desk that read, "It can be done." He was right.
It can be done -- and it must. It's time to promote the principles that made this nation great.
Ed Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org).