Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has a message for the Republican and Democratic parties and their leaders this political season: Don't wuss out.
The two-term Democratic governor — and a former Democratic National Party chairman — is also the author of the book, "A Nation of Wusses: How America's Leaders Lost the Guts to Make us Great."
According to Rendell, politicians change positions too often, refuse to admit mistakes or credit their rivals and won't say "no" their base. Underlying these and other signs of "wussiness," says Rendell, is a lack of backbone.
"If you run for office and you don't have a set of core beliefs of things you want to accomplish that are worth risking your job for then save us the trouble and don't run for office," Rendell tells The Daily Ticker. "You've got to have a fire in your belly about the things you want to accomplish and you've got to be willing to take risks to do them."
Unfortunately, Rendell says, Republicans are afraid of challenges from the right, and Democrats are afraid of challenges from the left especially in primaries "where voters tend to be ideologues."
He says Republicans are "scared to death" of Grover Norquist, the self-styled tax hawk whose no-tax pledge was signed by 236 House members and 41 senators—almost all Republicans. Norquist, says Rendell, is a primary reason Congress has refused to vote for tax increases to pay for infrastructure projects that the economy needs.
But he says Democrats are also to blame. "[Democratic] Senator Barbara Boxer and [Republican] Senator Jim Inhofe, who's very conservative, wanted to triple the amount of infrastructure spending in the stimulus, and we would have been so much better off if we had done that."
Rendell is calling on President Obama to champion an infrastructure investment program if he's re-elected. Also on Rendell's wish list for a re-elected Obama:
- A Simpson-Bowles budget plan to reduce the nation's debt
- An Energy Independence Act to help develop "homegrown" energy resources
- An R&D Bill to "Free up American innovation"
"Economist say we need to $4 trillion to fix the debt. Let's do $5 trillion and do all those other things," says Rendell.
"Every challenge we've had we've taken risks," says Rendell, recounting the building of the Erie Canal and the Transatlantic Railroad and putting a man on the moon. Paraphrasing President John F. Kennedy, Rendell says, "We do these things not because they're easy, because they're hard. "
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