"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Thomas Jefferson
financial condition

Sex, Lies and Videotaped Government Scandals

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 4
Publish Date: 
Thu, 04/26/2012


What do you get when you cross George Orwell’s Animal Farm with John Belushi’s Animal House? Government Gone Wild! 


If you assume that’s the title of a porn movie about U.S. secret service agents cavorting with prostitutes in foreign countries, or employees of the U.S. Government Services Administration (the GSA manages federally-owned property) whooping it up in Las Vegas at taxpayers’ expense, Think Again.


The hard truth is that the larger government grows, the more Orwellian and “Animal House” its conduct. Belushi’s character “Bluto” exercised no greater restraint around free beer than did GSA Regional Director Neely and his employees, whose exploits at their $823,000 Las Vegas “team-building” soirée were videotaped, only to dominate newscasts this month. Bluto couldn’t have carpe diem-ed on his parents’ allowance better than Neely who wrote in an invitation to personal friends: “We’ll pick up the room tab…. I know I’m bad, but…why not enjoy it while we have it….Ain’t gonna last forever.”  

Since government depends on resources drawn from the real economy, consider these facts: after the GSA’s Inspector-General reported Neely’s misconduct, Neely still received a 2011 bonus; the average GSA salary is nearly $92,000, $40,000 more than median household income; and the GSA’s budget rose 119 percent in 2011.  Furthermore, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported this January that federal employees enjoy greater job security and earn significantly higher compensation compared to private-sector workers.


Having worked in a large bureaucracy (the World Bank), I believe most public servants are decent, skilled, and dedicated, though rarely are “per diem” allowances unspent, or self-justifications un-uttered. It’s a truism that people won’t spend other people’s money as carefully as they spend their own. Unlike household budgets that strive to boost savings by minimizing expenses, government bureaucracies spend what they’re given while justifying more for next year.  They also lack the expertise and market discipline to “invest” wisely, evidenced by “green investments” in now-bankrupt companies like Solyndra.


Here's the ultimate question: why transfer more money from the real economy to those who are intrinsically more wasteful, negligent and indifferent to its ultimate good? To curb Bluto-like behavior, voters mustn’t allow irresponsible conduct they wouldn’t otherwise tolerate.  If your child spent irresponsibly while racking up credit-card debts, wouldn’t you confiscate his card?  Good governance, like good parenting, means establishing and enforcing reasonable limits.


Yet, politicians charged with stewarding America’s finances have acted like the pigs in Animal Farm who pronounced “all animals are equal, except some are more equal than others.”  Exempted from the self-discipline and frugality associated with American Exceptionalism and prosperity, they’ve presided over the greatest scandal -- an explosion of government, an avalanche of debt and the mugging of our children’s future.


April 29th marks the third consecutive year in which the Senate hasn’t passed a budget. Vested with the authority to confront and steer America through fiscal problems, the Senators’ inaction reflects the ultimate “piggish” dereliction of duty.  It’s also illegal, though conveniently, there’s no penalty for breaking the 1974 Budget Act. 


Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad said last year, “History is going to judge whether we have the courage, character, and the vision to stand up for America’s future. Those who take a walk, those who turn away, those who don’t have the gumption to stand up, are going to be judged very, very harshly.”  Though Conrad intended to pass a budget resolution this month, he was over-ruled by Senate leadership. Believing they can evade electoral consequences by not voting on difficult budget matters, they mirror the corrupt, greedy, and myopic leadership of the pigs in Animal Farm.


Economist Milton Friedman, one of America’s greatest apostles for freedom and free markets, believed politicians are finger-in-the-wind types who can be trained: “The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.  Unless it’s politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either.”


In other words, the onus is on us. Politicians will concern themselves with our interests only if they think we care. If we don’t care that they’ve violated the law by refusing to adopt a budget, and that they’ve spent us $16 trillion into debt, what do we care about? 


Demand accountability and restraint, and don’t allow the word trillion to be normalized, after all, a trillion hours ago dinosaurs roamed the earth!  Don’t wait for the right people to get elected; remember, Bluto became a US Senator despite his 0.0 GPA. It’s a basic rule of life -- If we tolerate out-of-control Animal House behavior and indifferent Animal Farm attitudes, we’ll just get more of it.


Think Again. It’s not only a fiscal imperative -- it’s a moral one.




America's New Years Resolution:Fiscal Fitness

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 1
Publish Date: 
Thu, 01/05/2012


Politicians are like New Year's revelers whose resolutions to get fit are as habitual as their unhealthy lifestyles. The most undisciplined merrymaker continually ups the weight-loss ante —10 pounds last year, 20 pounds this year — just as undisciplined politicians alleging fiscal prudence have upped their borrowing limit 4,967 percent since 1962, 67 percent since 2009.

If you thought politicians were pummeled into fiscal restraint after last summer's debt-ceiling debacle, which led to America's credit downgrade by S&P, Think Again. In fact, 2011 ended with debt reaching the new limit of $15.22 trillion compelling Treasury to request another $1.2 trillion debt ceiling increase. This time the increase will happen easily because new rules require both House and Senate disapproval to block it — not likely.

Like a long-running soap opera whose actors change though the story line doesn't, we spend $4 billion more than we have every day — and growing. Since 2008, spending skyrocketed past our historical average of 20 percent of gross domestic product to 25 percent.

The problem isn't merely the amount of debt — though as Sen. Obama asserted before voting against the 2006 debt-ceiling increase, “Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren” — it's the size of the debt relative to our economy that reflects poor economic health. With our debt-to-GDP ratio at 100.3 percent versus 69.8 percent in 2008, we're living on “borrowed” time unless politicians stop deluding themselves that a stagnant private sector can finance a growing public sector.

The eurozone crisis offers America a timely warning that the battle of the spending and debt bulge is an existential one. Europe's saga is our “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” except America can avert doom by slashing spending levels and lifting private-sector burdens. If Sweden, Ireland and a new reform-minded Spanish government can do both — the reverse of what we've done during the Great Recession — America should, too.

Americans agree, as 71 percent told a Rasmussen poll last week that Washington should cut spending. Absent the political will to reform entitlements and lower spending to pre-2008 levels, “the country is going through one of its longest sustained periods of unhappiness and pessimism ever,” observed Democratic pollster Mark Penn.

Distracted as we are by domestic matters including the media-hyped Republican primary horse race, Americans aren't focused on the international implications of a downgraded superpower. An America in economic distress undermines our capacity to perform the valuable role we've played since World War II — to promote global economic growth and political stability, especially among the poorest nations.

America is the most important trading partner to the world, inducing countries to adopt economic freedoms that enabled our prosperity, including limited government, property rights, free trade and a stable currency. Economically free countries enjoy greater growth, opportunity, civil rights and life expectancy, as evident on the Korean Peninsula, where South Koreans have dramatically better lives than their northern cousins, and in China, where 450 million people were lifted out of poverty after economic liberalization.

America used to rank second in the Wall Street Journal/Heritage Index of Economic Freedom (behind Hong Kong) but fell to ninth this year (below Canada, Ireland and Denmark), reflecting deteriorating business freedom, increased government spending and a weaker currency. Reversing this trend is essential to growth and job creation, otherwise we risk becoming collectively poorer as the world becomes progressively dangerous.

Dictatorial regimes, strategic adversaries and state terrorism sponsors tread more carefully when America is strong; conversely appearing weak and distracted emboldens enemies, frightens allies and undermines U.S. interests. Being a downgraded superpower renders us vulnerable and less prepared for emerging global threats including: a nuclear-hungry Iran intent on Israel's destruction and the transformation of an extraordinarily volatile Middle East; a jihadist-infested nuclear Pakistan; an increasingly militarized China to whom we owe $1.1 trillion; and a nuclear North Korea whose new, 26-year-old dictator poses many challenges.

Stuffed with pork, America suffers from the economic equivalent of arteriolosclerosis, the kind that presages fiscal heart attacks. The symptoms include the loss of our AAA credit rating, fragile business confidence, economic stagnation, persistently high unemployment rates and chaotic financial markets.

Nevertheless, a coronary isn't inevitable. Bequeathing our children a weaker, divided and vulnerable America is a choice, not our destiny. America's economy is the world's largest, producing one-quarter of global GDP, thanks to a 100-year average growth rate of 3 percent. Therefore, our singular objective should be to reclaim the growth that creates jobs and opportunity, not redistribute an ever-shrinking wealth pie nor designate economic winners and losers. First, however, we must accept that even the most prosperous nation in world history can't afford the government we've acquired.

As this election year debuts, voters must implore elected officials to Think Again — return America to “fiscal fitness” or risk being “bypassed” next November. 

Think Again

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 1
Publish Date: 
Thu, 03/31/2011

When I told my mother that The Aspen Times had offered me this column, she was concerned I would be maligned for expressing my views. After all, elite opinion-makers often paint conservatives as bigots and worse, an unseemly prospect for her nice Jewish daughter.

Notwithstanding my mother's concern, I'm delighted for this opportunity to offer readers perspectives they might not otherwise have considered. Whether readers change their mind is less important than whether they “Think Again.” Hence, the name for this column, because I believe in Mahatma Gandhi's dictum, “In true democracy, every man and woman is taught to think for him or herself.”

What most compels me to write this column is my dismay at the gradual erosion of American values and the simultaneous rise of an entitlement culture. It's tempting to want favorable treatment while expecting someone else to pay for it. But when we displace responsibility and blame others, we stifle the inclinations that made us great. Like the frog that can't detect the source of its gradual demise, Americans must be prodded to jump out of the boiling water.

Throughout our history, we've been the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” and a beacon to the world. Rugged individualism is in our national DNA. Our nation emerged from the unlikely victory of an outmanned army led by a valiant and stoic general, George Washington, who is our greatest American icon. We're all about overcoming adversity and stiff odds to grow, innovate and progress, and it's our hardiness and brazen independence that made us the freest, most creative and most prosperous nation in world history — and the most charitable. It's in our national creed to extend the underprivileged a “hand-up,” though not a “hand-out.”

Immigrants who flocked here did so to parlay pervasive opportunity into the American Dream. I am the lucky descendent of immigrant grandparents who, through tenacity and fortitude, realized their dream of a better life in the melting pot of America.

At the same time, other countries have thrived by adopting our values and practices. In my tenure at the World Bank, I witnessed the turn-around of countries that implemented our American model of limited government and free markets, while those that rejected it were caught in a cycle of dependency, corruption, market distortion and further poverty.

It's because of our unique “American Character” that De Tocqueville coined the term ”American Exceptionalism” in 1831. He observed an America characterized by a strong work ethic, self-reliance, independence, productivity, creativity, entrepreneurialism, charity and personal responsibility. Today, these values are being displaced by a growing sense of entitlement that is not only unsustainable, it has a corrosive effect on our identity as citizens ... it makes us smaller.

As America has moved away from our founding principles (limited government, liberty, and the American work ethic) many of our citizens have become less independent, less self-reliant and more expectant. All the while, special interests have ravaged our political culture and economic viability. Politicians, interested mainly in self-preservation, indulge us by feeding unrealistic expectations for favorable treatment, like parents who don't set boundaries for their children.

But as any parent knows, a sense of entitlement is toxic because it undermines initiative and gratitude and breeds self-centeredness, unhappiness and anger, giving rise to feelings of victimization and resentment when the “toys” are taken away. If we won't tolerate a sense of entitlement in our children, why should we accept it in our fellow citizens?

We shouldn't, because these attitudes undermine everybody's economic security, propelling us toward “Greek Tragedy” — a dead-end where our national debt has grown so large, it's the greatest threat to U.S. national security, according to Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Despite the class warfare waged by unprincipled politicians, Americans know we can't simply tax the rich to meet the demands of a burgeoning and unaccountable bureaucracy.

So, I ask you to consider this advice from an old sage: “Everyone should have two pockets, each containing a slip of paper. On one should be written: ‘The world was created for me.' And on the other: ‘I am but a humble servant.' The secret of living comes from knowing when to reach into each pocket.” Currently, too many of us reach only for the paper “The world was created for me.”

President Kennedy discouraged the entitlement mentality and invoked American exceptionalism when he urged, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” As Americans, we should “think again,” revert to the values that made us great, and reach more for the paper in our other pocket, “I am but a humble servant.”


Worry about hitting debt wall, not ceiling

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 1
Publish Date: 
Thu, 05/12/2011

Imagine having friends who earn $100,000 per year. They've continually outspent their income, charging $45,000 annually to credit cards. Their debt balance exceeds $700,000 and their interest rate is increasing. Facing two kids in college and retirement without savings, they plan to borrow more — from you!

My hunch is you'd tell them to Think Again. With little prospect of earning more, they must destroy their credit cards, live within their means, pay off their debt and save for retirement.

If this scenario sounds farfetched, please Think Again. It actually parallels the U.S. government's fiscal crisis, from which Americans can't just walk away. Like the parent who confiscates a child's over-spent credit card, Americans must honor our government's obligations, for we back “the Full Faith and Credit of the U.S. Government.”

Those words once implied the gold standard of credit-worthiness, attracting global investment to America. Now, they jeopardize our standard of living since we're collectively responsible for the $14.3 trillion balance on the national credit card.

As treacherous as debt is for individuals, its repercussions are worse for an economy. Countries with excessive debt suffer disproportionately from recessions when credit markets unduly tighten, forcing businesses and consumers to forgo investments and purchases.

Because our debt has grown to a historically high percentage of our economy (it's up $5 trillion, or 54 percent, since January 2008), implications for the next recession are ominous. We've hit another debt ceiling, raised 90 times in 60 years, rendering the concept of “debt ceiling” as meaningless as Social Security “lock-box.”

According to the Bi-Partisan Debt Commission, the national debt is in “unfamiliar territory” heading toward “unsustainable levels” due primarily to mandatory spending, prompting the International Monetary Fund and ratings agencies to downgrade the U.S. fiscal outlook to negative. It's no surprise. Despite perennially promising wise financial stewardship, politicians have overspent every year since Elvis Presley's first record — 1954.

Spending growth is made worse because the eventual costs of mandatory programs like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare (comprising most of the federal budget) are habitually underestimated in order to win approval. Launched in 1966, Medicare's advocates “conservatively” projected an annual expenditure of $12 billion in 1992, by which time actual costs exceeded $107 billion. Now, Medicare spends $600 billion and rising due to aging baby-boomers and escalating medical expenses.

Restructuring unsustainable spending programs is critical to America's fiscal stability and to protecting the health and retirement security of our citizens. If only it weren't such a political hot potato.

Politicians who win votes by advocating mandatory spending programs knowing (and withholding that) their long-term costs are unsustainable resemble sub-prime mortgage salesmen. Though the mortgage salesmen helped low-income borrowers achieve home ownership dreams by peddling loans with initial low payments, they knew payments would eventually balloon beyond the borrowers' capacity to pay, but they banked origination fees anyway. Ultimately, this deceitful behavior undermines everyone's economic security.

Most worrisome, our fiscal crisis is understated because accounting gimmicks allow future mandatory spending obligations to remain “off-balance sheet.” The U.S. Treasury's real liabilities are estimated to exceed $75 trillion, five times larger than officially acknowledged.

So, rather than agonize over hitting another debt ceiling, we should worry about hitting a debt wall, just like the friends who over-borrowed to maintain their spending habits.

America's deteriorating finances mean purchasers of U.S. debt require higher interest rates to compensate for increased risk. That's why the Federal Reserve is buying 70 percent of U.S. Treasuries, according to Pimco, manager of the world's largest bond fund. This means every day our government spends $4.5 billion it doesn't have, of which $3.1 billion is borrowed from itself. No wonder Pimco dumped its U.S. holdings and shorted U.S. Treasuries.

Who will buy U.S. debt after the Fed stops this summer? Beware of “bond-market vigilantes” who usually force immediate and unfavorable consequences on economies in fiscal distress.

Increased interest rates could cause a disastrous chain-reaction: Interest expense compounds and, like Pac Man, cannibalizes other government expenditures necessitating draconian and sudden spending cuts. Higher interest rates increase the cost of doing business, causing economic stagnation. U.S. assets depreciate as import and commodities prices continue rising. Paychecks buy less so businesses sell less, the global economy declines, lending slows, more jobs are lost and stagflation sets in.

After the Clinton administration was forced by “bond-market vigilantes” to Think Again about its fiscal policies, advisor James Carville said, “If there was reincarnation ... I would like to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.”

Rather than suffer “intimidation-by-bond-market” putting our whole society at risk, better to intimidate politicians to Think Again about raising the debt ceiling without first assuring our fiscal stability.

Cut up the national credit card, for the sake of America's children and for generations to follow.


Governing-class warriors misinform and demoralize

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 1
Publish Date: 
Thu, 10/27/2011


Like a snuff video, footage of Moammar Gadhafi's final moments saturated our screens last week. Despite revulsion for Libya's depraved and ruthless despot, I cringed at the ingloriousness of a once-powerful man holed up in a filthy drainage pipe begging for mercy. The cowardly dictator screamed “don't shoot” and ironically asked the rebels if they knew right from wrong, before a bullet to the temple ended his 42-year reign.

As thousands filed past his corpse wearing masks to avoid the stench of death, I wondered why Gadhafi hadn't fled with his $200 billion stash. Then again, “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” which is why tyrants like Hitler, Hussein and Gadhafi cling to authority — because they can. Never mind the devastation they leave in their wake.

In democracies, power is no less an aphrodisiac, though acquiring it requires winning votes, not gun battles. Too often, a politician's success depends on what he can get voters to believe, whether or not it bears any resemblance to reality. By engaging in negativity and demagoguery, either through false narratives or by denigrating opponents, politicians cause destructive wakes, including a misinformed and demoralized electorate.

Governing elites who exploit the politics of division to pick winners and losers and to determine our destinies are “governing-class warriors.” When such unscrupulous tactics are deployed, Americans must Think Again — something politicians hope we never do.

Simply follow the trend lines in Michele Bachman and Rick Perry's poll numbers after employing shameless demagoguery. When Bachman raised previously discredited fears about vaccinations while attacking Perry for mandating that girls get HPV inoculations, she undermined her credibility. Similarly, Perry damaged his standing when counter-punching Mitt Romney on illegal immigration, resurrecting the already scrutinized 2006 story about Romney's lawn service employing illegals.

Most unseemly is demagoguery that transcends mere political one-upmanship, transforming opponents into the moral equivalent of wife-beaters and worse. Consider former presidential contender Howard Dean's character assassination: “In contradistinction to Republicans, Democrats don't want children to go to bed hungry at night.” Or Congressman Andre Carson's smear that “some of them in Congress right now of this tea party movement would love to see you and me ... hanging on a tree.”

It packs a punch, especially considering the ease with which smears take root and propagate, as when Piers Morgan blithely asked Herman Cain, “You know there are elements in the tea party who are racist; I don't think it's a trade secret. How do you deal with that as a black man?”

Cain's response was clarifying, and disinfecting: “My experience has been, there is no more a racist element in the tea party than there is in the general population. I have spoken at hundreds of them and they're not racist. To think so, you must never have been.” No wonder Cain is topping the polls. Though the least likely to emerge, Cain's solutions-orientation and optimism appeal to voters who want to be persuaded by can-do leaders, not alienated by negativity.

Americans crave competent leadership as new polls show a sweeping lack of faith in what we've got: CBS/NYT finds 89 percent don't trust the government to do what is right, while The Hill shows 69 percent of voters believe America is in decline.

Americans' pessimism is understandable. Having suffered a historic U.S. credit downgrade with more possible, the powerful Supercommittee is reportedly struggling to agree on $1.2 trillion (only 3 percent) of deficit cuts over a 10-year period. Americans will recoil at their failure's fall-out, especially if leaders resort to the politics of division to evade responsibility and to advance narrow political interests.

Business leaders are already recoiling as entrepreneurs like Steve Wynn, Bernie Marcus, Mort Zuckerman and Steve Jobs have articulated concerns that Washington is a massive wet blanket to the economy and job creation. We believe them because we know they are living it.

When Wynn conveyed his concerns to good friend Harry Reid, Reid hung up on him. Reid disagrees with Wynn saying this week, “It's very clear that private-sector jobs are doing just fine. It's public-sector jobs where we've lost huge numbers.” Wynn no longer speaks to Congresswoman Shelly Berkley, now a Senate candidate. He recounts her shameful admission: “Steve, I know Obamacare is terrible. My husband is a doctor and he hates it too. But if I don't vote for it, Pelosi will punish me.”

Wynn, whose candor and moral clarity defies his Las Vegas roots, pleads “if any businessman or working person doesn't understand that this is a tipping point in American history, then I'm afraid we're going to get what we deserve.”

Unlike Libya, America's exceptional values and culture of opportunity position us well. We just need governing-class warriors to Think Again — Americans want to be persuaded to affirm our leaders, not so alienated that we reject them all.

America’s Tebows await their start

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 1
Publish Date: 
Tue, 12/13/2011

Back in September when President Obama was arguing for his third stimulus, he pronounced America soft and said we lacked a competitive edge. At the same time, the NFL cognoscenti were declaring Tim Tebow an NFL bust despite being a first-round draft pick. Remarkably, Tim Tebow and the U.S. economy are showing signs of resurgence.

The news that the U.S. unemployment rate fell from 9.0 to 8.6 percent in November (though due largely to job seekers exiting the market) is as surprising as Tebow’s 7-1 record since becoming the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Tebow’s late-fourth-quarter magic and five come-from-behind victories (three in overtime) have rocketed the Broncos from worst to first in their division, earning Tebow the confidence of coaches and teammates, and the adoration of fans.

If only America’s private-sector “quarterbacks” were liberated to call their own plays and scramble like an unleashed Tebow, America could win the economic equivalent of the Super Bowl — GDP growth of 4.5 percent and unemployment of 6 percent.

If politicians were as wise as Tebow’s coach, they’d formulate strategies to get business owners off the sidelines. They could start by reducing excessive regulations that, according to the Small Business Administration, cost the economy $1.75 trillion in 2008, more than individual and corporate income taxes combined — and that’s more than 11,000 regulations ago. In stronger economies, businesses are better equipped to tackle runaway regulators, who often view them as the opponent. Now, the 22.9 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or too discouraged to look for employment are consigned to the injured reserve list.

As politicians play political football with our fate, they demonstrate greater concern for the next election than for the next generation. If politicians were truly interested in growing the economy, creating jobs and paying off the national debt, they wouldn’t propose micro-measures like the temporary extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut. While hardworking taxpayers welcome savings, this temporary cut is minimally pro-growth and further erodes Social Security’s solvency. Furthermore, offering current benefits financed by faux spending cuts or never-to-materialize revenues is the very accounting gimmickry that has undermined America’s fiscal stability and credit worthiness. How many Americans know that the so-called “Budget Control Act of 2011” that raised the debt ceiling actually increases spending by $830 billion over current expenditures?

We know that to recover fiscal stability we must get taxpaying Americans back in the game. Six percent unemployment by 2014 requires an additional 14 million jobs, or 400,000 each month (compared with the 120,000 added last month). This implies an annual growth rate not seen since 1999 and triple this year’s 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, like the Broncos’ fans after the team’s dismal 1-5 start, Americans lack confidence. A recent Rasmussen poll shows that only 18 percent of Americans believe today’s children will be better off than their parents, perhaps because 68 percent of Americans believe government and big business work together against their interests.

This is where the tea party meets Occupy Wall Street — at the intersection of their complaint that the economic game’s officiating is unfair, as though a touchdown counts for more points if you’re from the favored team. Both movements want to reform a system that allows special interests to lobby for politicians to have more power to manage the economy, thus enabling politicians to enact favorable laws and regulations or allocate money for these special interests. When special corporate interests keep profits but share losses with hapless taxpayers, those without political connections suffer unfair competition. The result is a crisis of legitimacy that corrodes social trust, undermines effort and hurts our most vulnerable.

The most poorly officiated segment of our economy is the energy sector. It should be national policy to promote affordable energy, which is the lifeblood of any vibrant economy. But after 25 years of backward energy policies, Americans are unaware that we have more recoverable oil than the entire world has used in 150 years and the world’s largest holding of natural gas, oil and coal resources, according to last week’s Institute for Energy Research report. Allowing development of American resources would lower prices throughout the economy and promote energy independence, job creation and American competitiveness. It also would generate billions in tax revenues — considerably more than an anti-growth surtax on “millionaires and billionaires.”

If job creation and deficit reduction were really policymakers’ top priorities, they’d study North Dakota, where in 2011 the energy boom generated 20,000 well-paying jobs, a $1 billion budget surplus and America’s best unemployment (3.5 percent) and growth (7.1 percent) rates.

Throughout America’s history, our private-sector quarterbacks have demonstrated the tenacity, skill, self-discipline, confidence and faith that put Tebow back under center. If allowed on the field, America’s “gamers” will prove that not only aren’t we soft, we’re winners, like Tebow.

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