Americans live longer and can work longer, and social security and government pension ages should be raised to 70. No system of social insurance or federal finance can work when folks can live another 20 or 30 years in retirement.
No tax increase can escape these realities -- overtaxation caused nothing but slow growth, misery and decay in southern Europe.
Over-regulation of the private sector does not mitigate, but rather exacerbates risks of financial crisis. The greatest threats come, not from private bank meltdowns and personal bankruptcies, but rather from a loss of confidence in government's ability to promote adequate economic growth and hence raise revenues to finance its legitimate responsibilities.
President Obama inherited a mess -- unemployment peaked at 10% in his first term -- but since his recovery began, economic growth has averaged only 2.1%.
President Reagan inherited a mess, too -- unemployment peaked at 10.8% -- but at the comparable point in his recovery, growth was averaging 5.3%. Partly because of continued strong growth, federal deficits dissolved in the 1990s.
Instead of campaigning that cutting federal spending one half of one percent must force food shortages, outbreaks of E. coli and streets without police, the President would do better to read more about Reagan and less about Lincoln -- he faces a growth crisis not a civil war.
Republicans would do better to acknowledge that just as national defense can't be left to private armies, markets and competition can't solve health care inflation.
Both sides need to be honest with Americans about working longer and accept a radically different role for government if they want to leave the nation to their grandchildren as they inherited it: prosperous, secure and solvent.