Jewish World Review Jan. 26, 2000 /19 Shevat, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- BASED ON THE CAMPAIGN dialogue of the presidential races there appears to be a serious gap between the issues candidates are discussing and those that the victor will likely face in office.
Perhaps one reason for this variance is that the electorate is anesthetized by a thriving economy and peace in our times. In fact, a recent story in USA Today revealed that no particular issues are dominating the minds of voters this year. Aside from social and moral issues, it's awfully easy to be complacent if you live in the United States in the year 2000.
Far be it from me to knock prosperity but I do think the good times we are currently enjoying are having a surreal effect on public perception, and therefore on the presidential campaign.
Because of persistent growth without inflation for all but two of the last 18 years, and the tremendous growth in the stock market, we are an incomparably wealthy nation.
The economy has been so robust that economic issues are virtually "off the table." Oh yes, Al Gore promises that under his administration "we can do even better," and Bill Bradley complains of pockets of poverty. And Republicans are debating their tax plans, but not in the context of their potential impact on the economy.
I'm not saying that the candidates are offering no proposals that will affect our economy. To the contrary, almost every one of their programs would involve the expenditure of federal money. It's just that, with certain exceptions, they are not talking about economic policy -- how we can keep the economy growing. They are simply proceeding under the assumption that the economy will continue to hum along and inflation will remain in check regardless of monetary (Federal Reserve) or fiscal (tax and spend) policy. This is a reckless assumption.
A similar phenomenon is occurring in the area of foreign policy. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, our flawless victory in the Gulf War, and our casualty-free intervention in Kosovo, we seem to be lulled into the proverbial "false sense of security."
Apart from certain discussions about China and Taiwan, the campaign rhetoric is giving short shrift to foreign policy concerns. We used to discuss foreign affairs in terms of relationships and alliances among nations, geopolitical strategies and nuclear proliferation. Now the closest we come to approaching foreign policy is in talks of international trade and environmental treaties.
Unfortunately, the facility and impunity with which President Clinton has skated through his terms of office may lead to wrong conclusions. It is wonderful to be enjoying peace and prosperity, but we cannot expect them to continue on autopilot indefinitely, irrespective of the policy actions of our government.
Clinton inherited a vibrant economy founded on Reagan's dramatic reductions in marginal income tax rates. With the explosion in the technology sector, Congress' spending reductions and Alan Greenspan's deft monetary skills, economic growth continued despite Clinton's tax hikes.
Clinton also acquired the mightiest military in world history from Reagan and Bush and was able to use its high-tech weapons like toys every time it suited his needs. But his excessive deployment has undercut our military readiness to an alarming degree.
The next president will not be so lucky. He will be bequeathed a desperately ailing military that will require a massive injection of capital. Continual underfunding of our forces is not an option because the next commander in chief will face increasing:
We live in a dynamic world. The problems it serves up to the 43rd
United States president may be completely different from those we are
anticipating and electing him to tackle. We better elect someone who has
the judgment, maturity, stability and character to adapt and
01/24/00: GOP: Exit, stage left