In an op-ed article on Sept. 26 in the Des Moines Register, I pointed out that “…regardless of age, socio-economic status or political ideology, we are all affected by inefficiencies in our health system, irresponsible tax and spending policies in Washington, and snowballing government debt.”
I urged average citizens to become more engaged in the search for solutions to our fiscal and economic challenges: “Getting involved is the right thing to do. If we don't take action, who will?”
Well, last week Des Moines rose to the challenge, and then some. People there demonstrated the interest and personal involvement that can help our nation move onto a better, more responsible course. Over the course of 24 hours, about 1200 people in the Des Moines area turned out for events – presented by The Concord Coalition and its partners – that included a health care conference, Rotary Club and Ray Society programs, the Kelly Insurance Center conference and the marquee Fiscal Solutions Tour program at Drake University.
As Concord’s Midwest field director, I appreciate everyone who came out to join us. The civic engagement was fantastic; we had questions and comments from people of all ages and backgrounds. This generated lively discussions that focused on improving social security and health care, specifically, and education about the issues more generally.
The Des Moines Register followed up with an editorial outlining the basic fact that federal spending in many areas will need to be cut and our taxes are going to have to increase. The editors stated:
“Members of Congress are returning home to face constituents and challengers working to unseat them. Voters should ask hard questions about government debt, and they should not accept simplistic answers.
“Americans are in a foul mood and riled up about ‘out of control’ federal spending. That may not be so bad if the anger is channeled into the expectation that candidates elected in November will go to Washington to make hard decisions about reducing deficits. At the same time, Americans should be clear about what government services and benefits they are willing to live without.”
Where do we go from here? The midterm elections are only weeks away. People around the country should do all they can to understand the key fiscal issues, help educate fellow citizens and pose the tough questions to political candidates.
After the elections we can’t let up. We must press the winners to follow through on their campaign promises by showing greater fiscal responsibility and stewardship than our elected representatives have in the past.