What Do Americans Really Want?
April 29, 2012 (Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News) The New York Times on Sunday posted a story on its website about the French presidential election. The story included this quote from Marie-Claude Noel, a 72-year-old Amiens resident: "The French want change but only on the condition that it doesn't change anything for them."
Change "the French" in that quote to "Americans." Sound anything like us?
Deja vu, indeed.
We're generally in agreement that the federal debt and annual deficits need to be reduced. How about tax reform? No one wants to pay more taxes, but no one wants their tax breaks to go away. Has anyone asked his congressman to get rid of the earned income credit he's eligible for? Or the slew of tax breaks that accrue from homeownership?
We complain about government and taxes in one breath, then scream when government services are cut.
Sadly, politicians have learned to play to this contradiction in the American psyche. Cut taxes and still pay down the debt? You bet! Take care of everyone and still balance the budget? Of course we can.
Politicians tell us what we want to hear: Things are going to change, but it won't change things for you, except for the better.
And we get it all in sound bites because we don't want to deal with the complexity of issues we face, or the complexity of the solutions.
What do Americans want? We want change, as long as it doesn't change anything for us. As long as politicians in Washington know this, we'll continue to get more of the same.
What do American's need? We need our politicians to show leadership, bipartisanship and a willingness to compromise. But we also need to understand that change means change for everyone.