Excerpted from the Introduction of REVIVING AMERICA by Steve Forbes
How do we revive America? Both left and right agree the nation has lost its way. The Great Recession that followed the historic financial meltdown of the mid-2000s officially ended in 2009. But the recovery is the weakest ever from a major downturnso weak, in fact, that some 60% of Americans feel that the economy is still in decline. Poll after poll shows that people have lost faith in the system. This national funk is explained by the numbers. Since 2009 Americans have seen a sharp decline in real incomes. The biggest drop has been experienced by the bottom 20% of income earners. Within the past couple of years, the employment picture has improved, but the labor participation ratewhich reflects the number of people who have dropped out of the workforceis the lowest in decades.
More and more adults are concluding that their children and grandchildren wont do as well as they did and will face a lower standard of living. With the American dream of upward mobility appearing to fade, many wonder whether Americas days as the optimistic, can-do land of opportunity are over. Yet the Washington politicians appear clueless about what needs to be done. The policies of Barack Obama, the president who was supposed to bring us hope and change, have given us a disheartened, divided America. Public anger has resulted in riots and demonstrations on a scale not seen in this country since the 1960s and early 1970s. In this ugly atmosphere, political sniping and scapegoating are increasingly taking the place of rational public discourse. People are directing their rage towards immigrants, bankers, the rich, idlers content to live off government handoutsand even the police.
Things are even worse abroad. Malignant forces, especially Islamic fanatics, grow in strength, emboldened by an America that seems to have abandoned its role as the leader of the Free World. Russian dictator Vladimir Putin commits aggression against Ukraine, a sovereign nation, while also threatening other neighbors and openly challenging the U.S. in the Mideast and the Arctic. Elsewhere, China brazenly flexes its muscles and taunts the U.S. by sending naval vessels to the edge of U.S. waters. Our nation seems mired in a malaise that evokes comparisons with the 1970s. Is this uncertain, polarized and economically stagnant America really, to use a favorite term of political elites, the new normal? The answer is a most emphatic No.
With the courage and the leadership to enact the right policies, this country can reboundand rebound quickly. REVIVING AMERICA lays out the bold actions necessary for an American Revival that will restore faith in our nation as the land of opportunity and hope. As we are entering the 2016 election season, politicians are floating ideas for curing our ailing country. Some of them have merit, but three crucial areas must come first in any program of meaningful reform: healthcare, taxes, and monetary policy.