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Reclaim history of liberty

In his State of the Union address, President Obama struck a conciliatory tone. With callouts to American exceptionalism and the need to work together, he said a lot of things I can agree with.

But there was a striking disconnect between his appeal to American innovation and his proposals to win the future.

The president now acknowledges that since the November "shellacking," priority one is jobs. But how do we create jobs and grow the economy? Is government the solution or the problem? The answer is what distinguishes the two major parties.

To be clear, it was bipartisan ineptitude that got us into this financial mess. Like Kansas, the U.S. government has been living beyond its means. The heady economic times of the 1990s resulted in tax revenues that consistently exceeded projections and outpaced budgets. Some of us said we should return the overtaxed excess to the people. Others saw the unexpected revenue as an opportunity to spend more. And spend we did, setting us up for the shortfalls we live with now.

Obama proposed numerous investments to get us back on track. More hours in school, investments in energy, free college tuition, light rail. Good things, except for one problem: We are out of money.

The president did propose a five-year discretionary spending freeze — after increasing domestic spending by a record 25 percent. That is like setting the cruise control at 85 mph before you are about to go over the cliff. We need to hit the brakes — fast.

Of course cuts will be painful. But if we do nothing, the huge travesty will be continued "investment" in failed policies that will bankrupt our country to the point where we cannot recover.

America's 235-year experiment proves that unfettered innovation of individuals and businesses is responsible for her exceptionalism. The best thing government can do is get out of the way.

"In America, we do big things," the president said. The "big thing" incumbent for us to do is to reclaim our heritage of liberty. We need to understand that government cannot create prosperity, but it can create the conditions to let freedom and wealth abound.

This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue. This is an American issue. We have a unique moment in time to reclaim this great experiment in freedom called America, or be prepared to lose it forever.