I am a non-ideological fiscal conservative and social moderate. My two main sources of information on national policy are the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. If they agree on an issue, I will probably agree with them. If they disagree, then I figure it out for myself. Many of my other sources, such as new books, are often suggested to me by a review or reference in one of these two newspapers.
In my opinion here are the fundamental problems facing the U.S:
- The national debt. Our enormous debt problem can only be fixed by reforming and curtailing entitlement spending, especially for public healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. This will be very hard to accomplish through our democratic political system, absent a major fiscal crisis, which is why I consider it to be our biggest problem.
- Economic growth. GDP growth has increased in the past two years and is likely to remain brisk for the foreseeable future. This keeps the unemployment rate low (now at 3.7%) which gives low-income workers and the unemployed a big boost. This is the best way to address income inequality and reduce poverty.
- U.S. economic and military strength. It is the overwhelming U.S. economic and military strength since the end of WWII which is responsible for the relative world peace and stability of the past 75 years. The growing economic and military power of China will challenge U.S. superiority in the coming years but we have many advantages in this struggle.
- Global warming. The evidence for global warming is overwhelming (decrease in arctic sea ice, warmer and more acidic oceans, rising sea levels, more extreme weather events, etc.) but I am optimistic that humanity will rise to the challenge of controlling it, led by the U.S. Already 70% of Americans agree that global warming is real and man-made and this percentage is steadily increasing. Two major states, California and New York, have begun initiatives to become carbon neutral by 2050 and other states and regions will soon follow. For example, OPPD in eastern Nebraska has committed to 50% wind power by 2025.
- Social welfare. I strongly support many social welfare programs. This includes Social Security and Medicare for retirees. It also includes such programs as Medicaid, TANF (temporary assistance for needy families), food stamps, and EITC (earned income tax credits) for low-income people
- Other social issues. I support immigration reform (with a strong guest worker visa program), justice reform (less incarceration for nonviolent criminals), and gun control (universal background checks for all gun purchases). But I am not a social liberal. I favor restrictions on abortion. I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana (I support the Nebraska policy of decriminalization for possession of small amounts). I also support capital punishment for the most heinous crimes.
Summary. To me being a fiscal and economic conservative and social moderate is just common sense. We need to pay our bills with tax revenue, provide economic opportunity for all Americans, defend our democratic way of life, respond to natural threats, and help the less fortunate among us.