By: Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum
THAT USED TO BE US
How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back
“That Used to Be Us” represents an effort by Mr. Mandelbaum, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and Mr. Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times. This may be an American crisis, but it is not just an American concern. Nor is it simply a matter of improving the living standards of future generations in this country. Because of the unique — and at this point irreplaceable — American role in providing important public services across the globe, the world as a whole will become a much poorer and more dangerous place if Americans fail at the task of national renewal.
A long tradition of American thinkers and statesmen — George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, to name a few — have argued that a strong and forward-looking federal government should promote a healthy domestic economy and a strong international presence..
But the authors of this book also have uncomfortable words for Democrats. Hamiltonians historically believed in sound government finance and efficient administration. This is not the kind of talk that public sector labor unions and partisans of the entitlement state like to hear. “That Used to Be Us” unsparingly describes the causes and likely consequences of the recklessly unsustainable pension and entitlement promises that are among the gravest fiscal problems we now face. It also calls for smarter and less cumbersome forms of regulation, something that business is more likely to support than some traditional Democratic constituencies.