Posted By RichC on February 5, 2010
Books about fixing America’s dysfunctional economy are trendy again and partisan finger pointing is probably the most notable component in most books. The book by David M. Walker called Comeback America is no exception when it comes to the frustration and anger he shares when in particular chastising President George W. Bush. Irritation aside, Walker is one who has the credentials to deliver punches since he also work under President Reagan, Bush 41 and Clinton eventually becoming comptroller general of the U.S. from 1998 to 2008. During that same period he was also CEO of the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) and shares how he led it’s reorganization from what was the General Accounting Office.
Walker became the nation’s seventh comptroller general under President Clinton and was able to experience a robust economic, helped by the technology boom, and a political environment that saw both a “Contract with America” fresh faced congress and a President willing to make choices that gave the U.S. a budget surplus as it faced the year 2000.
In Comeback America, David Walker explains how he warned congress and the Bush 43 administration of the disconnect after 2001 of tax cuts and pending wars. In reflecting on Walkers recent history lesson, I still find it disturbing as a fiscally conservative Republican to see how different George W. Bush was with finances than his father, George H. W. Bush. Walker commented that he has “lifelong respect for our first President Bush who had the courage to break a campaign promise — “Read my lips: No new taxes” when he saw our deficits rising to dangerous levels.” For me, Democrats are the spendthrifts, not the Republicans … obviously someone lost their way.
As David Walker analyzes the Obama presidency, he says that Clinton was fiscally responsible, but doesn’t see President Obama following that discipline, based on his first year in office. Walker see him currently overly focus on health care "reform," and comments that he is continuing Bush 43’s spending habits, aided and abetted by Congress.
Walker believes that if significant reforms to current government programs and policies aren’t made, federal taxes will double from their current levels. The effect will be a decline in our nation’s economic strength and position in the world will diminish, not to mention the suffering and hardship of our citizens, especially the poor. His credit card example was easy to understand where seeing continual overspending eventually costs the user more in interest than in principle – and when we are talking Trillions of dollars, the hole we are digging is very deep.
Walker believes that reforms must be made in every sector of the government, including raising the retirement age for Social Security, the so-called "Third Rail" of reform. He proposes raising the eligibility age and the amount of wages and self-employment earnings subject to the Social Security tax $150,000. He would also require supplemental savings accounts, believing that President Roosevelt in his 1935 Social Security Act legislation never intended the program to be the primary source of retirement income … which it currently is for many retirees.
Walker also wants a total reform of the Pentagon and to health care he suggest fixed limits as to what the federal government can spend each year. No unfunded mandates.
Tax reform is big on Walker’s recommendation. He suggests adopting a Value Added Tax believing a VAT would encourage saving and discourage conspicuous consumption – a concern for our materialistic society.
One of the biggest changes and most challenging is my wife’s pet peeve: Term limits for Congress. Walker notes that it is widely used in state and local governments and believes electing members of the House of Representatives to four-year terms, instead of the current two-year and limiting the tenure of representatives and senators to 12-18 years – which seems overly liberal (in a non-political way) to many of us? One other area would be in electing Presidents; Walker believes only a single 6 or 8 year term rather than a second potentially lame duck term. Obviously these changes would require a Constitutional Convention … and in my limited understanding of the goings on in Washington, a monumental undertaking.
Although the majority of David Walker’s Comeback America is depressing and reflects on how we have mismanaged our way, he also shows how we can return to our founding principles of fiscal responsibility and stewardship for future generations, hence the title Comeback America.
On another personal note — Since my daughter is in town with her Nook (and the hardback was $26.00 compared to the. $9.99 B&N e-book), I took the opportunity to read some of Comeback America on the Nook – my first full read of an e-book on e-reader (not counting computers, Palm Pilots and smartphones).