I know, I know: In the presidential race between Mr. Straight Talk and Mr. Change You Can Believe In, it is more than a little tempting to become a political cynic. (A cynic, said H.L. Mencken, is one who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.)
And by early November, I wager we will all be so weary of the election process we'll be happy to cast our votes for no other reason than to mark the end of the ordeal.
Still, we need to be thoughtful. Leaving party affiliation aside, consider for a moment the issues our new president—and Congress—will have to address:
- Coming to a conclusion on tax changes that are set to expire in a year or two. These include estate taxes; without some resolution they will disappear for a year then re-emerge at high levels.
- Constructing a rational energy policy. Virtually all candidates want the U.S. to be energy-independent, but we had better figure out what that means and what it will take to get us there. Ethanol, as we have learned, won't do it.
- Fixing our entitlement system. Unchanged, Social Security and Medicare will run out of money during our lifetimes.
- Ensuring the U.S. remains competitive in the world marketplace. This means making sure we have qualified workers, good trading partners and good relationships abroad.