By Jeff Mullin, columnist Enid News and Eagle
What is wrong with America?
It’s a question many people are asking these days as the nation’s standing as the world’s dominant economy seems to be slipping.
So, what is wrong with America?
We owe way more money than we can ever hope to pay back. Our economy is faltering. The housing market is still in the dumper. We are still at war on two fronts. Our government is dysfunctional, at best. And that’s just to name a few.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted recently found 73 percent of Americans believe this country is “off on the wrong track.”
I’m not convinced we are on the wrong track, just that there are two engines trying to pull the train, in opposite directions.
That is the opinion of President Obama, as well. In a speech Thursday at a hybrid car battery plant in Holland, Mich., the president said in his opinion, “There is nothing wrong with our country. There is something wrong with our politics.”
I agree with his first point, but I differ with him on his second.
Politics has been part of this country since its inception. The concept of bringing together people of different political views to govern creates debate, generates divergent ideas and philosophies and prevents a government marching in lockstep.
Perhaps the problem isn’t with our politics, but with our leaders. And that starts with the president.
Effective presidents are coalition builders, skilled negotiators who can bring together people from both sides of the political spectrum and convince them to work together.
That involves give and take, compromise rather than intransigence, flexibility rather than pig-headedness.
To date, Mr. Obama has failed to demonstrate much alacrity in this area. He used the bully pulpit and a majority in both houses to pass sweeping health care reform, but since the 2010 election left control of the House in Republican hands he has found it much tougher to get his legislation passed.
The leadership failure doesn’t stop there, however. The leaders of both the House and Senate must bear a large share of the blame. The recent debt ceiling fiasco demonstrated just how little control and influence House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid really have over their respective delegations.
It took pushing the country to the brink of a predicted economic Armageddon to goad Congress into acting on the debt ceiling, with legislation that proved too little, too late to keep at least one agency from downgrading the country’s credit rating. That downgrade rests squarely on the heads of Obama, Boehner and Reid, equally.
And what has been done to tackle the problem of the nation’s burgeoning debt? A committee has been formed. As any good church-goer knows, the word committee comes from a French term that means a place where good ideas go to die. Continue reading