There is a new morality debate emerging quickly to the forefront of American politics. Many conservatives now talk about economic issues like the debt, deficit spending, and crumbling entitlement programs as moral problems our country must face head on.
Speaker John Boehner said recently, “It is immoral to bind our children to as leeching and destructive a force as debt. It is immoral to rob our children’s future and make them beholden to China.” Potential presidential candidates such as former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty are taking to the campaign trial calling the national debt “immoral,” and tea party favorite Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) says that the “mountain of debt is an immoral burden on future generations.” Speaking about his recent budget proposal Representative Paul Ryan(R-Wisc.) said, “Our debt problem is not just a fiscal challenge involving dollars and cents. It’s a moral challenge involving question of principle and purpose.”
Liberals who are pushing back against entitlement reform and spending cuts, preach a compassion message laced with fear and guilt. For example, President Obama, in his recent speech on the deficit asserted, “’There but for the grace of God go I,’ we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security ….” They tell us that if we reform Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, we are failing our obligation to take care of the poor, those in need, and the elderly.
While our country should provide services to those in need, we cannot be resistant to reforming our generous government assistance programs. Future generations, my generation, and your grandchildren should not have to pay taxes into programs that are likely to fail before they have an opportunity reap any of the benefits that they provided for you. As former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney recently argued, “(A) transformation of our approach to taxes is both an economic and moral imperative.” Of course, if future generations are not able to find adequate employment, there will not be any income to tax so that a social welfare program’s certain death can be prolonged. Job creation is a moral issue too.
If communicated correctly, this new economic morality message can resonate with young evangelicals, some of whom are moving to the political left. At the same time, older, traditional evangelicals who have become active in movements like the tea party will endorse this morality-based approach to economics, knowing that it will increase the likelihood of electing politicians with the backbone to usher sweeping reforms.
The social conservative base, like the pro-life movement, has never been resistant to a conservative economics message but making it about morality, and less about resisting the federal government, will make it easier for them to infuse their social conservative message with economic policy.
In a sense, economic morality has a major ability to unify the conservative movement and broaden our reach as we approach the 2012 elections. This is a defining issue for our country. Will we continue to borrow foreign money to sustain entitlement programs, fail to seriously tackle the growing national debt, and let the next generations deal with the fallout? If we do, we are unloading our problems on future Americans. That is immoral.
More On Faith and the budget:
Thistlethwaite: The Gospel according to Ayn Rand