While Washington is caught up in beside-the-point debates about budget deficits and the size of government, our biggest challenges (and opportunities) are going unaddressed, The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne writes today. Meanwhile, other countries are showing how it's done, marrying public and private resources to pull ahead of us in (among other things) health care, green economics, and basic infrastructure. "Our imagination deficit is the shortfall we should worry about," writes Dionne. "We seem incapable of doing what we did in the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and, yes, Nixon years: imagining how practical public action could make our citizens’ lives better, our country stronger and our private economy more productive." Sure, we need to get a handle on the long-term deficit, he concedes (adding that a return to Clinton-era tax levels would get much of the job done); but the larger challenge is to figure out "how we can plan, invest and compete with countries far more focused than we are on how the new global economy works." Earlier this year, Barack Obama said that "we don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit investment in our people and our country." As Dionne sees it, politicians in Washington are acting as if we do need to choose – and they're making exactly the wrong choice.
'U.S. is being outpaced on dealing with deficits, climate' [E.J. Dionne, The Washington Post]