Now that the Congress is finished taking a break from doing nothing yet again, the agenda looms large, and needs to be accomplished before they stop spending money for the summer vacation. Perhaps they can accomplish a year’s worth of work in six short weeks, but their inherent inefficiency makes this unlikely. However, the re-election of the GOP Congress depends on its ability to enact or make permanent legislation helping America’s working families. Their laundry list should include the following:
- Comprehensive Immigration Reform: I’m no expert, but immigration is a problem that has been allowed to fester for far too long. Whether you’re a conservative or a liberal, immigration reform must be economically sensible. Deporting a population roughly the size of Massachusetts is infeasible. Reagan economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey reported that deportation would cost at least 1% of GDP, or about $100 billion. Not to mention the economic losses resulting from such a policy. The compromise bill pushed by Sen. Frist should be passed.
- Make the Tax Cuts Permanent: Bush’s tax cuts have resulted in strong economic growth and the approximately 5.2 million new jobs since 2003. The addition of a new 10% tax bracket has removed 43 million people from the tax roles after all deductions and credits such as the EITC. Perhaps the most generous provision of Bush’s tax policy is the doubling of the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000. Democrats, who claim to be "fighting for America’s families" want to repeal the child tax credit increase, citing it as unaffordable.
- Permanently Repeal Capital Gains Taxes: Increasing numbers of middle-class families are facing undue obstacles to savings, homeownership, and keeping their money in their pockets. Capital gains tax applies to stocks, home sales, and other transactions. Many families tap into savings vehicles such as 401(k)s and other market accounts for a down payment on a home. While 401(k) withdrawals are not subject to capital gains tax per se, they are required to be reported as taxable income and subject to an additional 10% penalty. While Bush made progress in cutting capital gains taxes to 15%, they need to be eliminated. Savings, withdrawals made to purchase a home, and home sales should not be taxed—at all.
- Eliminate the Marriage Penalty: First enacted in 1971, the marriage penalty is the equivalent of the Blessed Sacrament for Democrats. While families and marriage should not be penalized with higher taxes, Democrats believe "higher income" should be taxed at higher rates, no matter what your situation or marital status. While the elimination of the marriage penalty will be a hard bill to pass, seeing that the Democrats wouldn’t vote for a tax cut that benefited Mother Teresa, it needs to be done. Perhaps changing Senate rules would do the trick.
- Eliminate the Death Tax: Dying should not be a taxable event. I’m sure the Kennedy fortune isn’t going to Uncle Sam when Ted dies. Need I say more?
- Pass an Eminent Domain Amendment: The Supreme Court went off the deep end in its decision re Kelo v. New London, in which it ruled that private development to "boost the tax base" was a viable reason for stealing people’s "blighted" property. In a system of government based on checks and balances, it is the responsibility of Congress to nullify the Kelo decision with a constitutional amendment.
- Protect Marriage: Marriage has never been, and never will be, merely a consensual relationship between two adults that is based on love. While love is an important aspect of society, marriage serves the greater purpose of unifying one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation, according to natural law, and serves the public interest. Further, marriage is the basis of society, and provides a foundation for the next generation. Long before marriage was recognized by the state, it was a religious institution that was a symbol of a union with God.
Utah polygamist are suing for legal recognition presently, saying that social norms are evolving, citing Lawrence v. Texas as their legal precedent. As far-fetched as it sounds, it is nevertheless true. The Federal Marriage Amendment is needed not only to protect marriage as it has always been and always will be defined, but to prevent the federal judiciary from being clogged with litigation.
Enacting the above agenda will help cement middle-class families to the Republican Party, who have been jumping ship en masse since the Reagan years. But one need not look at the Republicans’ pro-family agenda to see that the party is looking out for middle-class families, middle-class pocketbooks, and middle-class values; one merely needs look at an election map, and notice the vast income gap between red and blue America; those families who can afford to bleed their heart out, and those concentrating on raising their kids.