Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wanted: Leaders With Political Courage

In 1946 the war had ended, the troops were returning home and America was celebrating a great victory.  But all was not rosy.  Hundreds of thousands of young soldiers were flooding the private sector.  They needed training, education and jobs.  At the same time the Soviet Union was viewing a devastated Europe as fertile ground for the spread of Communism.  The expansion of Soviet ideology threatened the very freedoms that we had fought so hard to preserve.
Harry Truman, a Democrat, resided in the White House.  He understood the gravity of the threat pose by the Soviet Union.  Truman, along with his Secretary of State, George Marshall, worked with a Republican controlled Congress to create and pass the Marshall Plan.  The goal was to help return Europe to prosperity and stave off the spread of Communism.  This massive bi-partisan undertaking poured $13 billion in economic aid and technical assistance into the war ravaged European continent.  By the time the funding ended in 1952 the economy of every participant state has surpassed pre-war levels.  In essence the United States rebuilt the continent of Europe.
At the same time Truman and the Republican Congress passed the GI Bill and VA Loan bill paving the way for education, job creation and that beloved concept of "The American Dream.”
Can you imagine the political will and courage it took to propose a bill like the Marshall Plan?  Think about asking the American people to reconstruct the economies of our enemies; the very people who took so many of our young lives.  But Truman and the Congressional leaders looked past the next election cycle, put politics aside and did what was best for the country.
Today we are suffering from a lack of political courage.  Our leaders view their roles and responsibilities through the lens of ideology and electability.  They put party ahead of country.  They know what needs to be done.  If there are doubts all they need to do is listen to the American people.
-Over 70% of Americans want to invest in infrastructure, education, science and R&D.
-Over 70% of Americans understand the need for entitlement reform and want the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare increased.
-Over 70% of Americans want the tax code reformed, loopholes eliminated and a more equitable balance between taxes paid by the rich and the rest of the country.
-Over 70% of Americans want the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ended now and the money spent building roads, bridges, schools and hospitals in those countries to spent building those things here in the US.
-Over 70% of Americans want the government to create jobs.

What we need is a Marshall Plan for the country…and leaders with the courage to put it into action.       

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