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Sun October 5, 2008
Families, not Washington, Provide the Change we Need
By Richard Nelson
Murray, KY – Last Monday Barack Obama spoke at a Louisville rally which the media likened to a rock concert loud music, large crowds and fainting women. But what moved the estimated 10,000 in attendance more than anything was the theme that America needs change.
Now, before my conservative brethren disown me, allow me to explain. According to a CBS/New York Times poll conducted on April 3, 81 percent of Americans believe we are on the wrong track the highest it's been since the poll began nearly 20 years ago. Citizens on both sides of the political aisle, from all corners of the nation, are calling for change. Conservatives are unhappy. So are liberals. Of course, for very different reasons, but the dissatisfaction is real.
Social conservatives see the country slouching towards Gomorrah, while fiscal conservatives decry pork-barrel projects that do more for an incumbent's re-election chances than they do for the nation's economic well-being. Many are upset about the federal government's failure to deal with the current crisis over Medicare, which, according to one estimate, is projected to become completely insolvent in 11 years. Social Security is projected to go bankrupt by 2041. Then, there is the war in Iraq.
There's lots of fodder to fuel complaints, but the question remains: What kind of change is Obama talking about? For that matter, what kind of change is Clinton, McCain or any other political candidate offering? Whatever the change might be, we cannot reasonably expect big government solutions to clean up the mess originally created by big government programs.
Years of fiscal irresponsibility and deficit spending by both political parties have unconscionably saddled us with $9 trillion in national debt and it's our children and grandchildren who will pay for it. Here's a thought: Instead of earmarks for bridges that go nowhere, why don't our leaders implement policies that build a future for stronger families the nation's most important infrastructure?
It's time to invest political capital in long-lasting policies that encourage family formation and stability. No-fault divorce where children are involved should be discontinued. Out-of-wedlock births ought to be disincentivized. And marriage ought to be elevated as the first and foremost social institution with special privileges and benefits.
Our leaders would do well to move toward a family policy that treats equally women who choose to stay at home with their outside-the-home working counterparts by allowing a child care tax deduction. Single income families should be given greater tax breaks and the $1000 per child tax credit should be made permanent. These policies are family friendly, while at the same time maintaining freedom for families to choose what is best for them.
It's clear that four decades of government programs, however well intentioned, haven't adequately replaced parents, and one-size-fits-all solutions to our problems don't work.
It's time we realize that our greatest resource and recourse lies not with any political leader, but rather with the millions of American families who are much more capable of solving their own problems and can chart a better course for their future.