Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor at The National Review and a columnist for Bloomberg View, explained why reviving the United States’ economy is the most pressing issue facing the nation’s next president to an audience of more than 120 people at the University of Central Florida Tuesday. He also addressed other groups on campus and in the community.
During his presentation, organized by the UCF Global Perspectives Office, Ponnuru discussed other challenges the next U.S. president will face domestically and internationally.
He began by stressing how difficult it is to forecast political trends, saying the political environment is fast-moving and often unclear, which can lead to incorrect predictions.
Ponnuru frequently pointed to the current U.S. economic slump, which he believes continues to take a toll on society and makes it increasingly difficult for the U.S. to have a strong global role. He said improving the economy will be the most pressing issue for the next president nationally and in terms of foreign policy.
Ponnuru argued that the effects of the country’s current high unemployment will be felt for years to come. Some of the causes, he stated, include weak regulation of the mortgage infrastructure and policies that first invited, then expelled, illegal immigrants. He also said that the corporate tax rate in the U.S. needs to be lowered, because the high rate leads to fewer investments and lower wages.
Although domestic challenges may appear more pressing than international ones at the moment, the two are connected, according to Ponnuru. Whether or not the United States meets its international challenges “will determine to a great extent how committed we will be to playing an international leadership role and how effective we will be at doing it.”
Ponnuru stressed that it is important to take global demographic trends into account. The most important trend, he argued, is falling global birthrates, specifically those in China. Ponnuru pointed out China’s demographical problems, including an aging society, a shrinking work force and a large gender imbalance, with roughly 120 males for every 100 females. He said that it is impossible to rule out political upheaval in China due a shrinking labor force and falling savings rates.
Ponnuru then turned to America’s allies. The traditional U.S. alliance with Europe will soon diminish, he predicted. This is because the European Union’s value as an ally is shrinking as it is weighed down by the Euro and economic problems in countries such as Greece and Spain, he said.
America should continue to nurture its alliance with Great Britain and Japan, and perhaps align more strongly with India as a “fourth pillar,” he argued. Ponnuru said an alliance with India is important because the nation shares America’s values and interests, including the free flow of oil around the world and the containment of China. These four countries could ultimately represent the continued growth of traditional Western morals, he said.
Ponnuru asserted that the U.S. is still an exceptional nation, though it faces serious challenges in the coming years. He said the country can put its best traits to use as solutions to current problems, adding what is needed now “is for a new generation to make our old principles new.”
Along with the Global Perspectives Office, sponsors and partners of Ponnuru’s presentation included The India Program at UCF, the Anil and Chitra Deshpande India Program Endowed Fund, Lawrence J. Chastang and the Chastang Foundation, LarsonAllen LLP, the UCF Nicholson School of Communication, the UCF Global Peace and Security Studies Program, the Sibille H. Pritchard Global Peace Fellowship Program, the UCF Political Science Department, the UCF Book Festival 2012 in association with the Morgridge International Reading Center, UCF LIFE and the Global Connections Foundation.
For a full list of upcoming events or to learn more about the Global Perspectives Office, visit http://ucfglobalperspectives.org.