Americans, and specifically policy makers, must remain focused on the bigger picture of fixing the federal deficit. That was the message delivered during last evening’s opening banquet of the 100th KLA Convention by Karl Rove, senior advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000 to 2007 and deputy chief of staff from 2004 to 2007. Rove said the country is distracted from more pressing matters by short-term issues including the “fiscal cliff.” 

He emphasized the U.S. government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Since President Barack Obama took office, Rove said the federal budget increased $650 billion above the 2008 baseline for each of the first three years of his term. That overspending has created an economic climate detrimental to the “American dream” of being able to start with nothing and build something substantial. 

Near-term deadlines have shifted priorities away from fixing the deficit problem. Rove pointed out Congress has only 34 days to extend the Bush tax cuts and 49 days to address across-the-board federal spending cuts approved by Congress in 2011.

“I’m not optimistic we’re going to avoid going over the fiscal cliff,” he said.

Although these issues will greatly affect Americans, Rove said the problem of the deficit should come first. He remains optimistic America will rise to the challenge.

“Somehow or another the American people always step up and get it done,” he told the KLA audience of about 600.     

His presentation ended with a fascinating description of the events of September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the U.S. Rove said it was the “scariest” day of his time working for the Bush administration.

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