It’s another day and another state in the continuing quest that is the Republican primary process as Illinois voters head to the polls. And though the scenery changes with each day — from the beaches of Hawaii to the streets of the Windy City — there is one constant in this primary election: Voters are almost singularly focused on the state of the economy.
A Chicago Tribune/WGN poll shows that 38 percent of voters rated the economy as their top issue, followed by the size and power of the federal government, and the federal budget deficit. That sentiment is not all that different from those of earlier primary states. In the Super Tuesday primaries, The New York Times reports that exit polls showed that in Ohio, where unemployment is at 7.7 percent (which is good by national standards), more than half of voters said the economy was the most important issue. Likewise in Massachusetts — hardly a bastion of conservatism — 6 in 10 voters also said the economy was priority number one, as did voters in Georgia, Oklahoma, Vermont and Virginia.
Given the state of the U.S. economy, that uniformity of opinion certainly makes sense.
Last month, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.3 percent, nearly 13 million Americans are out of work, and millions of potential employees stopped even trying to find work. Though 227,000 new jobs were created — which is good news — that growth is occurring in an economy that is plodding along to recovery.
Meanwhile, gas prices are going through the roof, hitting $4.73 in parts of Chicagoland, well above the national average of 3.87 a gallon. For families struggling to make ends meet, that number is a hard fact to ignore.
While Americans are struggling to balance their own checkbooks, they’re watching a federal government that is utterly failing to balance its own. It has been more than 1,050 days since the U.S. Senate passed a budget, the national debt is on its way to hitting $17 trillion, and Washington hasn’t even come close to grappling with the country’s entitlement crisis. This is yet another millstone weighing down job growth in America, leaving business owners to wonder what their obligations to the federal government will be in years to come.
Many in Washington, though, are ignoring the debt crisis, even though the writing has been on the wall for some time. As House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) explains, “This coming debt crisis is the most predictable crisis we’ve ever had in this country.”
There is an answer to these problems, as The Heritage Foundation lays out in its Saving the American Dream plan. Washington can fix the debt, cut spending and, above all, restore prosperity by balancing the budget within a decade, cutting government in half, eliminating Obamacare, and fully funding national defense. The plan squarely confronts the problems plaguing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and it redesigns our entire tax system with a single, flat rate. Those measures will restore fiscal sanity and get the country back on the right track.