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Time for GOP to Get Back to Basics

We must be the party of vision, ideas and reform

It is time for the Republican party to get back to basics and once again reclaim our mantle as the party of vision, ideas and reform.

Though reaction to the President’s State of the Union address will no doubt initially be focused on his strategy in Iraq, I hope that proper attention is given to some of the other initiatives that the President discussed. Other initiatives that he outlined including balancing the budget, making private health insurance more affordable, personal and accessible to Americans, and replacing our dependence on Middle East oil with new sources of American oil and American alternative energy sources are all extremely important if we wish to tackle our nation’s most pressing issues.

War in Iraq

The President was clear in his belief that his plan to move forward is essential to completing the U.S. mission in Iraq. Throughout human history, nations that have failed to stand the test of time are those that have failed to defend their principles.

As costly as fighting this war is, the cost of defeat is even greater. Imagine for a moment what defeat in Iraq would mean for the future of our nation and our world, both in terms of human life and global stability. Failure in Iraq would send that nation spiraling into a state of chaos, becoming what Afghanistan once was — a breeding ground for terrorists bent upon harming our families and our country. Imagine a world with an even greater conflict in the Middle East that would threaten our security, our allies, and our way of life. To ensure that this vision remains confined to our imagination, we must commit ourselves to empowering Iraqi government so that we can leave them in charge of their own fate.

It is time to focus on what is best for the future of America rather than what is best at the ballot box. The Democrat majority, who continually reject the plans offered by our Commander-in-Chief, must be honest with the American people about the consequences of failure in Iraq. And, if they do not support America’s mission in Iraq, as the majority they have the responsibility to offer their own plan that they feel IS in the interest of the United States and the obligation to vote in a manner consistent with their commentary to the media.

Terrorism and Homeland Security

America has not been attacked on our own soil since Sept. 11, 2001, and for that President Bush deserves a great deal of credit. While some may try to argue otherwise, the success of the administration, our intelligence services, and our armed forces to protect our homeland is indisputable.

That success is not a guarantee that past success may not one day end, and that is why America must remain vigilant in the face of a radical enemy that wishes harm upon our families and our way of life. To prevail, we must continue to remain on the offense, always one step ahead of our enemies. We must continue to be innovative in our methods to procure and utilize intelligence and we must always be as united behind our cause as they are behind theirs.

Making Healthcare More Affordable and Personal

In America today, it is a thousand times easier to find a cell phone provider than it is to find a doctor and a health plan, and that is something that we need to fix. All Americans want affordable, quality healthcare which they control. Period.

I applaud the President for offering a bold vision to address our nation’s healthcare problem with a plan that will allow Americans to deduct their health insurance costs. By altering our tax code to empower more Americans to assume greater control over their own healthcare, we eliminate government bureaucrats from a process that should be between a patient and their doctor. In the process, healthcare becomes more affordable for the majority of lower and middle income Americans.

Fiscal Responsibility and Reforming Entitlement Programs

I am glad that the President senses the need to curb wasteful spending and while I strongly believe that true budget reform is the best strategy to reform business as usual in Washington, fixing the broken earmark process is a much needed first step in that process.

Some of us have worked tirelessly to put an end to the out of control earmarking culture. Next week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) will bring the legislative line-item veto to the floor for consideration. Those committed to fiscal responsibility and accountability for taxpayer dollars will surely support his legislation.

In order to address the most severe economic threat facing our nation, we must be completely honest with the American people. There will be two defining moments of fiscal responsibility that will soon define this Congress: whether taxes are raised to fuel the growth of government — thus imperiling the growth of the economy for American families; and whether Congress moves thoughtfully and expeditiously to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from collapse. Make no mistake, there is no other alternative and we need to act.

These three entitlement programs are on a glide path toward bankruptcy and will threaten the fiscal security of each and every American if some choose to stand in the way of honest, results-oriented reform. Failure to act today will force the next generation into a dire situation. Either America will have a federal government that consists of almost nothing but Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (no Army or Navy, no Veterans Administration and no Border Patrol) or — just as bad — we will be forced to double taxes on our children by the time that they are searching for their first full-time job.

By allowing Americans to establish and grow their own personal nest egg as a part of Social Security, we strengthen the program for generations to come.

Written By

Congressman Jeb Hensarling (TX-05) is the Chairman of the House Republican Conference and was one of three House Republican members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

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