Now that the Republicans have taken back Congress, their most difficult hurdle is ahead. President Obama has made it clear that he will not tack to the center a la Bill Clinton following 1994’s bloodbath, so we can expect a lot of gridlock — the Republicans will not bring the administration’s policies to a vote, but they do not have enough votes to easily override a veto unless they can get many Democrats to jump ship. However, even the threat of a veto should not prevent Republicans from passing the following legislation.
The first thing Republicans need to do is to renew the Bush tax cuts. Letting the Bush cuts expire will cost taxpayers $115 billion next year alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and $2.6 trillion through 2020. Now if every single penny of those increases went to paying off our debt, maybe I would support letting them expire; however, we all know that this money will be appropriated elsewhere and will only increase our grandchildren’s burden and guarantee our slide into second rate world power. These cuts affect more than just the wealthy. The lowest personal income bracket jumps 50 percent — from 10 percent to 15 percent. The 25 percent bracket rises to 28 percent, and the old 28 percent goes up to 31 percent.
Next on the agenda is overturning ObamaCare. The costs for ObamaCare have already risen to more than $1.05 trillion, and the CBO has admitted both that it will not decrease the cost of health care (as we’ve seen through the increase in premiums in response) and will not save the government/taxpayers money. Large corporations have said they will be cutting out health care for many of its workers due to the expenses ObamaCare is placing on them. This plan certainly is not bringing affordable healthcare to the people, but rather taking employee provided health benefits away.
The GOP must make good on its platform of cutting the size of government. For too long it has given lip service to one of the fundamental tenets of the party. For most Republicans, a budget “cut” simply means approving federal budgets for less than what agencies want, but still higher than past years. In other words, they simply do not expand at as fast a rate as the Democrats want.
The entire idea of keeping taxes low is to starve the government so it can not expand, but especially the Bush-era GOP forgot this idea entirely and gave us tax cuts and bigger budgets, and that’s the biggest reason the party lost power in 2006. The Democrats had been out of power long enough and voters had forgotten how much the Democrats could spend like drunken sailors in Bangkok. Hopefully, both parties and the voters have learned their lessons on the real cost of run away government spending.
They must, at long last, address Social Security. For all the talk back in 2000 of a “lockbox” on Social Security, neither the GOP nor the Democrats did any such thing. This year’s annual report from the Social Security actuary concluded that Social Security will be in the red, for the first time ever, starting this year. That is five years earlier than the dire predictions of yesteryear, yet no one is talking about this.
Instead you have fools like the New York Times’ Paul Krugman talking up more stimulus while Mr. Obama runs around with his hands in the air yelling, “Let Me Be Clear, it’s Bush’s fault,” rather than coming up with practical solutions. It is simple folks, find the problem and address it. We know the issue so grow some stones and fix Social Security now.
Finally, we must reinstall the idea of Realpolitik into our foreign policy. Realpolitik is the idea that foreign diplomacy should be conducted practically and pragmatically rather than moralistically or idealistically. The Bush Doctrine was a piece of overly idealistic poppycock. We can not practically or financially afford to forcefully bring democracy and freedom to every nation, and not every nation’s people want our brand of democracy and freedom anyway. We need to bring to a successful conclusion the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need to quit supporting Israel and deal with the Islamic street in more practical terms. We need to encourage a strong India and Japan to counter China’s rise while encouraging China, Japan and South Korea to solve their North Korea problem for themselves.
We should look for partners closer to home and strengthen those ties rather than gallivant across the world. Mexico is having devastating problems with crime and drug cartels that are spilling over into our southwestern states. Helping Mexico makes sense, it directly affects the U.S.; bringing democracy to small towns in Iraq and Afghanistan does not. Working with the Cubans to drill oil off the Cuban coast makes sense, holding onto an outdated embargo while the Chinese make off with Cuban oil does not. The list goes on.
The reason people have given the GOP a second chance after four years is simple — its fiscal ideals. Unlike libertarians, conservatives understand you need some government. The private sponsorship of every government-provided service is patently ridiculous — the Microsoft Court of Appeals or the New York Sewage System sponsored by General Electric. Government is necessary, but it does not need to be all things to all people, especially not to the people of every nation.
What American government is supposed to do is give people a chance to take personal business risks, not protect them from risk. The government is not supposed to tell you to tighten your belt, then complain that you are not spending enough to help the economy while spending more money itself. It is supposed to encourage entrepreneurship and small businesses, while preventing big businesses from exploiting monopolies and running off to other countries and headquartering there. The GOP does this by championing the idea that the less money you pay to the government, the less government can interfere with your personal life. When given a blank check, governments attempt to reach into every facet of your life and make the decisions for you; it becomes a tyranny.
By passing the above agenda, the GOP will be reasserting the government’s pact with the American people and we can begin to look ahead to a brighter future rather than continuing to blame the past.