The challenges ahead for the next president of the United States are enormous, writes the Cato Institute’s Michael D. Tanner. Whether it is Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or some as yet unnamed third choice, here is what that president will face:
Deficits – The deficit is expected to rise to $544 billion, a $105 billion increase from last year. “If the incoming president wants to avoid fiscal calamity, while funding his or her own priorities, there will have to be a willingness to cut spending and reform entitlements that has been missing in the campaign so far. And, no, cutting “waste, fraud, and abuse” isn’t going to do it alone. That means the new president is going to have to make some very powerful interest groups very unhappy.”
Obamacare – The Affordable Care Act is an unremitting drip, drip, drip of bad news, and tinkering around the edges is not going to fix it. Repealing the unpopular law is a non-starter and the new president will have to find a viable option.
Slow Growth/Lack of Jobs – Tax cuts could help one of the slowest recoveries in history, “but they won’t solve the problem by themselves, and, unless they are accompanied by spending restraint, they risk increasing the deficit. Government jobs programs and stimulus spending may have a short-run impact, but they do little to increase sustained long-term growth. Either a trade war or a federal spending spree will only make things worse. The new president will have little room for economic error.”
Security/Civil Rights – “… what not so long ago looked like a worldwide trend toward democracy and free markets has stalled, if not reversed. … At home, the question for the next president will be how to keep Americans safe without compromising what America is. He or she will need to foster an America that is vigilant but not unnecessarily frightened. It will take an unusually careful and steady hand to prevent another Brussels or Paris or San Bernardino without turning the country into a surveillance state, restricting individual rights, or giving in to prejudice and discrimination.”
America Divided – Our increasingly diverse country contributes to what makes America great, giving it strength, energy, and vitality, but it also brings dislocation and tension. The new president will have to rise above “our current take-no-prisoners brand of politics” and be a president for all of us. “He or she must find a way to unify us, to bridge differences, to, in Lincoln’s phrase, ‘bind up the nation’s wounds’.”