By Rick Santorum
What type of future do I want for my children and future grandchildren? I do not wish for them a future with a financially unsustainable, cradle-to-grave dependency on the federal government. Rather, I wish for those I love so much a future where the federal government encourages and empowers success, personal responsibility, and financial independence. I also want a future where state governments, or the federal government, can provide fiscally sound, dependable safety-net programs to protect our most vulnerable citizens from a life of poverty. We have a choice -- government dependency, or a dependable, fiscally-sound federal government. We cannot have both. I ask America to join me in the fight to end the ever-growing cycle of government dependency -- for our children and grandchildren -- the fight for freedom and opportunity.
Liberals have continuously expanded entitlement programs far beyond stability. They have created generation after generation of citizens more and more dependent on the federal government. This has resulted in greater power for the federal government. We need to do what is necessary to keep these programs from collapsing under a mountain of deficit spending. It is a choice between saving and strengthening these programs, or further weakening and destroying the safety net programs that provide security and poverty protection to those most in need.
We must modernize our federal entitlement programs to meet the needs of current and future beneficiaries, and reduce the financial burden on our children and grandchildren. In many ways our entitlement programs have been successful at protecting millions of Americans from a life of poverty. We need to save and strengthen these programs so that they are there for our children and grandchildren.
Doing nothing is an unacceptable option. We are borrowing four out of every ten dollars we spend, and we're dependent on low interest rates. If we wait to act, the only solutions will be drastically higher taxes, massive new borrowing, and sudden and severe cuts in benefits or other government programs. Doing nothing threatens our financial security, as well as that or future generations.
This is why the next President of the United States needs to show true leadership and put federal entitlement programs on a course towards fiscal sustainability. Tragically, President Obama has not shown such leadership. He has expanded eligibility for entitlement programs into the middle class and above.
I have demonstrated my commitment to fight for entitlement reform through the successful effort on welfare reform, which ended a federal entitlement for the first time and created opportunity and reduced poverty.
In contrast, President Obama and Mitt Romney's records are creating health care entitlements and expanding Medicaid dependency through ObamaCare and Romneycare instead of free market opportunities and choice. Instead of taking entitlements head on, Mitt Romney continues to play games about the earmarks that he has supported. While Romney focuses on 1% of our fiscal challenges, I will continue to focus on 100% of them for a sustainable future for seniors and young people in America. We can't afford not to.
With our government spending 40% more than it has, and our national debt exploding beyond 15 trillion, the time is overdue for strong fiscal leadership rather than kicking the can down the road. My guess is that the Vegas odds on either President Obama or Mitt Romney actually reforming entitlements are quite low. I don't think that even Mitt Romney would make a $10,000 bet on that one.
My plans for entitlement reform would unshackle beneficiaries from the federal government, unleash the power of market competition, and empower Americans with choice and control. For example, I would reform Medicare with a premium-support program that offers beneficiaries choice and control over their healthcare options. This would transform Medicare from a program run by government to a program that empowers seniors.
I would also block-grant Medicaid so that states have the flexibility to effectively manage their programs and offer the best options for beneficiaries. These, and other reform ideas will transform our federal entitlements from programs that breed dependency to programs that empower beneficiaries and encourage independence.
Conservatives know that I am committed to limiting government, expanding freedom, and putting America back on a sustainable fiscal path through cutting federal spending and entitlement reform, repealing and replacing ObamaCare, instituting pro-growth tax and regulatory policies, and unleashing America's energy and manufacturing potential for a brighter future for America.
America faces a deficit of over $1 trillion for the fourth year in a row. The only way to truly tackle these deficits and to preserve our freedom is to reform entitlements, the fast-growing component of government spending. For the health of our economy and for the sake of our children and grandchildren, that is the path I will take.