Amid the renewed bout of hand-wringing over American decline (see, e.g., this Washington Post story Pete referred to earlier), Mike O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution delivers a welcome rejoinder in the Los Angeles Times.
O’Hanlon ponts to U.S. strengths–ranging from demography (we’re not aging as fast as our competitors) to R&D spending (we spend more than a third of the global total). He concludes the U.S. is not only the “greatest country on Earth” but the one with the “most promising future.”
I fully agree. As I argued a few days ago, what we are seeing is not the failure of a nation but a failure of a nation’s leaders–and particularly of Obama’s leadership. But I do not believe we will be consigned to indefinite paralysis in Washington. If our track record as a country shows anything, it is when problems become severe, our political class addresses them–however belatedly. Examples range from the Whiskey rebellion of the 1790s to the home-mortgage crisis of recent years. Perhaps the current debt crisis will prove to be the exception. But I doubt it. Sooner or later, Congress and the White House will make hard choices to bring our spending and our revenues into closer alignment. The only question is how quickly they will act, and how much economic pain we will experience before they do.