Time to Pick Up the Pieces
Congress recessed Friday on the 73rd day that President Obama has been in office. The day before – Thursday — was typical of many other days we’ve seen since January 20: the Democrats passed yet another huge piece of legislation that burdens our economy with more debt, spending and more government control.
The Obama budget passed by the House contains over $3.5 trillion in spending and new White House programs such as the energy tax. It passed without a single Republican vote.
As an eternal optimist, I know the American people have the ability to overcome any obstacle. We face numerous challenges that will test the limits of our often rancorous political process and our commitment to the principles that have helped guide our nation for more than two centuries. Triumphing over these challenges will require the courage to offer real solutions. Contrary to the disingenuous narrative promoted by President Obama, conservatives have put forward bold solutions that are needed to restore confidence and capital to our markets while preserving the character of our nation. Unfortunately, neither the White House nor Democratic Congressional leaders have been willing to even consider them.
These are the ideas that the Republicans Study Committee (RSC) has promoted and those that will set us on a course for renewal and economic restoration.
Economic Growth: The question at the forefront of the national consciousness is how to restore sustainable long-term economic growth. At this point, after nearly $10 trillion dollars in stimulus, bailouts, and backstops, it should be clear the methods attempted in Washington thus far have only created more uncertainty and aggravated an already exploding debt burden. The RSC understands that a real solution must unchain the American entrepreneurial spirit and focus on the job creators in the private sector, rather than growing government.
Our Economic Recovery Act would provide broad economic relief and incentives to invest for the families and businesses that drive our economic engine. This pro-growth package includes across-the-board income tax rate cuts and a reduction in capital gains taxation for individuals. It would create jobs and make America more globally competitive with a lower corporate tax rate and reduced economic burdens on all businesses. The RSC proposal to stimulate the economy does not include one penny of new spending and actually begins to tackle our massive debt with a one percent discretionary spending cut.
A Balanced Budget: Congress just passed the most reckless budget in American history. The budget proposed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats doubles the deficit in five years and triples it in ten years. While piling spending upon more spending, their budget ignores the greatest threat to our national solvency: entitlements. Standing in stark contrast to the President’s spending spree, the RSC offered a positive budget solution.
Most importantly, our budget reaches balance. It ends bailouts, eliminates wasteful programs, and reduces overall non-defense discretionary spending each year by one percent. It promotes economic activity with a full AMT fix, preserves the stimulative tax relief of 2001 and 2003, and provides a two-year suspension of capital gains taxes to encourage investment and the flow of capital. And most significantly, it reigns in out-of-control spending in our health entitlement programs. We must move immediately to address the coming tsunami of entitlement spending that threatens to cripple the American economy for generations. The RSC budget says we can no longer ignore the enormous and coming shift in demographics. We must come together today to make tough choices and tackle head on the flawed entitlement structures that are threatening our national solvency and the security of our seniors.
Ensuring a bright future for our children requires us to give particular focus to two huge sectors of the economy: energy and health care. In the coming weeks, the RSC will pursue our solutions to the challenges presented by these issues.
An All-of-the-Above Energy Plan: Last year’s extraordinary rise and subsequent fall in oil prices made one thing very clear: without stable and reliable access to diverse sources of energy, the American economy is vulnerable to the volatile whims of hostile nations. In this era of high demand, we must adopt an “all-of-the-above” energy policy. RSC members know the United States cannot afford to continue policies that prohibit the full development of our domestic energy capacity. A truly comprehensive energy plan will increase production of American-made energy to meet current demand, promote clean and reliable sources of energy for the future through innovation, and encourage conservation to lower demand and protect the environment. In this endeavor, the country needs all options on the table.
Patient-Centered Health Care: Sustainable health care reform means putting the emphasis on patients. Our goal is to give all Americans access to quality, affordable health care. Contrary to the misguided beliefs of many in Washington, the path to this goal does not travel through a government-run bureaucracy. Instead, we can reform the system so that individuals own and control their health coverage and are provided the financial incentives to purchase care that meets their needs, not Washington’s. Personal ownership will give people control over their own medical decisions, necessitating insurers to be more flexible and responsive to patient needs. Only by putting patients in control will we achieve the 21st century health care coverage that is accessible, affordable, responsive, innovative, and of the highest quality.
Preserving the Secret Ballot in Workplaces: While we fight for principled solutions to the frontline challenges facing America, the RSC continues to guard against underhanded attempts to abandon core American values. Preserving the secret ballot in union elections is a prime example. The secret ballot is a sacrosanct right enjoyed by every American at the voting booth, yet Big Labor and liberal interest groups are seeking to destroy the secret ballot in an effort to force more workers into union membership. We responded to this scheme, dubbed “card check,” by introducing the Secret Ballot Protection Act to ensure that all workers are guaranteed the right to vote their conscience without union bosses looking over their shoulders.
The fact that we must introduce legislation to protect the secret ballot demonstrates the political challenges before us with a liberal Democrat majority in Congress. Yet the Republican Study Committee is committed to the preservation of America’s guiding ideas and knows success will demand constant vigilance and dedication to principled solutions.
We know that a broad application of conservative principles will cure the economy, deliver a responsible budget, solve our energy and health care challenges, and protect American values. The RSC is ready to lead the way with responsible, secure, common sense solutions. And we shall continue to do just that.