Tennesseans are most fortunate that Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., isn't just wringing his hands over the problem of irresponsible U.S. spending and taxes. He is proposing reasonable solutions.
Here are Alexander's sound suggestions:
• "First, we need to balance the budget."
A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution "would force the president and Congress to balance the federal government's budget the same way American families do," he stated in a news release.
• Second, we need strict limits on federal outlays. That can be done by forcing the government to reduce its spending as a percentage of our gross domestic product - the sum of all our nation produces in a year.
To move toward that worthy goal, Alexander is co-sponsoring fellow Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker's plan to reduce America's spending from 25 percent of GDP to less than 21 percent over the next 10 years. That could save trillions of dollars.
• Third, there should be a ban on any new entitlement programs and the repeal of ObamaCare.
"Entitlements have grown to 57 percent of the budget, and they're breaking the bank," Alexander said. "We must start by repealing the entire health care law now, top to bottom, because it creates new entitlements and expands a system that everybody knows already costs too much." (Even Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen has acknowledged the serious cost problems of ObamaCare.)
• Fourth, Washington should not be permitted to place new financial burdens on state and local taxpayers. "We should do that by banning all new unfunded mandates to the states," Alexander said.
He describes our nation's current situation in stark terms: "Our challenge is this: Stop a runaway federal government that has strayed from its constitutional role and given us big regulations and bad policies that squash small businesses and throw a big, wet blanket on job creation."
That means doing things such as holding down tax rates, getting rid of excessive regulations, producing more domestic energy while promoting conservation, and "living within our means."
Don't you wish a majority of the members of Congress - and the president of the United States - had the good judgment and clear resolve that Alexander has shown? What a difference it would make to the economic health of our government - and to our personal jobs and pocketbooks - if his proposals were adopted.
"Whose grandchildren are we going to force to pay for all this spending?" Alexander asks.
That's an excellent question. Don't all of us care about our children and grandchildren, and their future in this great country? Then we had better act quickly to leave them something other than economic disaster.
Alexander, fortunately, doesn't only deplore the problem. He offers a sound start toward solution.