Judging the First 100 Days

The first 100 days of a president’s term mark a milestone by which we try to evaluate the administration’s agenda and the direction it aims to take the country over the coming years. By any measure, President Obama’s first 100 days have been eye-opening. The President, with a gleeful seal of approval from his liberal allies in Congress, has already managed to bury future generations of Americans beneath a mountain of debt. Sadly, the President’s hallmark policies — the $787 billion non-stimulus, the meddlesome bailouts, and the budget plan working its way through Congress — all send a clear signal that attempts at more generational theft will continue for the foreseeable future.

Though the opening months of the Obama administration have been a setback for responsible government, it would be a mistake to equate this with a failure in conservative initiative or dimmed prospects for the future. When we look back, the legacy of these 100 days will be the bright spark in the minds of so many across this nation looking for a return to the principles of limited government and economic freedom. As Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, I am convinced the resurgence of our ideals in American politics and policy is within reach.

Without a doubt, the President’s big-government plans have already redefined the role of government in everyday life. Those who believe that politicians and bureaucrats are best equipped to spend taxpayer money, run industries, and dictate personal choices will find little to complain about in this agenda. For the rest of us, the policies pursued by our new president in his first 100 days have been disheartening.

So as we work to steer Washington, our party, and our nation in a more responsible direction, conservatives in Congress have committed to a two-pronged approach: principled opposition to any proposal that may devalue America’s fiscal, social, or national security standing; and thoughtful, principled solutions for the challenges facing America.

While the President rushed a massive, pork-laden “stimulus” bill through Congress, the Republican Study Committee offered a real package to promote economic growth by returning money to the individuals and businesses who earned it. Our solution offers tax relief for 100% of taxpayers. It reduces taxes and economic burdens on American businesses — the real job producers in our economy. And it says we cannot continue to pile debt onto future generations, offering a discretionary spending cut. Imagine that!

And when Democrats pushed the President’s $3.6 trillion budget proposal through Congress, the Republican Study Committee produced something that Washington has not seen in a long time — a balanced budget. Such an idea may be a pipe dream in today’s political climate, but our plan improved the fiscal outlook dramatically by preserving tax relief, eliminating an array of wasteful spending programs, repealing the “stimulus” package, addressing health care entitlements, and fundamentally returning economic freedom to the American people.

Conservatives are working steadfastly to ensure that we provide a clear and workable solution to counter each item on the President’s agenda. As President Obama has pushed forward, so too have conservatives. Some have deemed Republicans the “Party of ‘No.’” These people are either uninformed or disingenuous.

Yet more important than any proposal we could offer in Washington, the outcry of dissatisfaction from people across America is rising to a fever pitch. Though he has the power of the Oval Office and sizeable Congressional majorities behind him, the American people recognize that the President’s reckless spending agenda is entirely unsustainable. Tired of making tough choices in their household budget, only to see the President open the flood gates of reckless spending, hard-working Americans have begun to send a message to Washington that they’ve had enough.

The taxpayer “tea parties” that organically spread across the nation on April 15th represent far more than one day of protest. They signal that fiscal sanity is making a comeback. This burgeoning movement says loudly that real conservatism — less spending, less taxes, less Washington — is alive and well.

We should not underestimate the significant impact that these first 100 days have had on Capitol Hill Republicans. While President Obama has discouraged with his big-government liberal agenda, Republicans have begun to learn that it is a return to conservative principles, not an indifference to them, which will restore their prominence in Congress and more importantly America’s prosperity.

This is only the beginning of our fight for fiscal sanity.

In just 100 days, President Obama has laid the groundwork for the most intrusive federal overreach in the country’s history, all funded with money we simply do not have. This agenda will not proceed uncontested. As President Obama and Congressional Democrats continue to treat taxpayers like their personal ATM, conservatives will continue to offer bold, positive ideas that prove that we are, once again, the party of solutions.