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“Poised for a Breakout”–from Obamaism

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

FAB contributor Newt Gingrich explains how life could soon be much better if we can overcome bureaucracy, over-regulation, and restriction of innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Poised for a Breakout”–from Obamaism
by Newt Gingrich

President Obama must have been cruising Amazon.com this weekend.  Or at least so it would seem from his remarks to the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

“In a lot of ways, America is poised for a breakout,” he said.  “We are in a good position to compete around the world in the 21st century.  The question is, are we going to realize that potential?”

If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, that idea will sound very familiar.  It is the argument I have been making since last spring, and the subject of my new book, Breakout.

The President is right that America is poised for a breakout.  Advances in science, engineering, and technology offer incredible opportunities in learning, health, energy production, transportation, and many other fields.  These breakthroughs could mean we are on the edge of a dramatically better world in which many of our current problems simply disappear.

President Obama is also correct that the big political question facing Americans is whether “we are going to realize that potential”–whether we will choose to break out.

But what the President apparently doesn’t see is that he represents breakdown–the greatest threat to our potential future.  That government as bloated as our current one will inevitably break down may be the chief lesson of Obamaism.

There is a breakdown of big government bureaucracy, a breakdown of competence, a breakdown of common sense and defined purpose in government, and a breakdown of the rule of law.

Practically every day we are reminded that the government is simply incompetent to do all the tasks it has assumed to itself.  The disastrous launch of Healthcare.gov is just the latest example.  Even with three and a half years to build the website, the key people in charge failed for a variety of reasons–some legal, some bureaucratic, many political–and rather than admitting their failure, they foisted the broken system on the country anyway.

The same breakdown in competence extends across the federal government.  It’s the reason 20 to 25 percent of Earned Income Tax Credit payments by the IRS are improper.  It’s how the same agency managed to send “a total of 655 tax refunds to a single address in Lithuania, and 343 refunds…to a lone address in Shanghai.”  In the private-sector, we have systems to fight this level of incompetence.  In the broken down big government bureaucracy, the failure is simply expected, and it continues year after year.

In some respects, the problem is bipartisan.  We saw it in federal response to Hurricane Katrina under the last administration.  Yet only one party believes we should increase Americans’ reliance on broken systems.

Beyond the breakdown in competence, there is a breakdown of common sense in the federal government.  Programs continue decades after they have outlived their usefulness, like the national “raisin reserve” on which the Washington Post reported recently.  It requires raisin farmers to hand over large portions of their annual harvests to “a farm program created to solve a problem during the Truman administration, and never turned off.”  There are hundreds of similarly pointless programs hidden in the bureaucracy.

Finally, there is a breakdown in the rule of law, as we have seen over and over under the Obama presidency–from the IRS targeting conservative organizations, to EPA officials releasing personal information on thousands of farmers to environmental activist groups, to the Justice Department conducting criminal investigations of journalists, to the President’s unilateral suspensions of parts of immigration law, welfare law, and even his own health care law.

As the champion of bureaucratic, centralized, and often extralegal solutions, President Obama is the leading representative of the breakdown that could prevent America from seeing a breakout like the one he predicted yesterday.

As I argue in Breakout, I do believe life could soon be much better for all Americans, if we can overcome the prison guards of the past keeping us trapped in bureaucracy, over-regulation, and restriction of innovation and entrepreneurship.

There is enormous potential for learning science and e-learning, personalized and regenerative medicine, American energy production, breakthroughs in transportation such as self-driving cars, and even a private space industry.

But this will require big changes in how we organize government–changes that President Obama certainly will not make.  In fact, he’ll take us further in the wrong direction.  That’s why we won’t know the answer to his question–”Are we going to realize that potential?”–until the elections of 2014 and 2016.

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