Conservatives need to forge forward with an aggressive agenda in 2012.
On the policy front, they have much work to do.
ObamaCare is scheduled to be debated before the Supreme Court. Obama???s individual mandate forcing all Americans to purchase government-approved health insurance may be struck down. At the end of 2012, the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire and massive cuts made to defense spending.
Expect conservatives to play defense in 2012 in order to protect America???s citizens from an ever-expanding federal government and President Obama???s job-killing ideas.
Republicans will pick a candidate for President next summer, to face off with President Obama on Nov. 6, 2012. The issues in the presidential debates will determine the issues America tackles over the next four years. Politicians should embrace entitlement reform and the wholesale elimination of inefficient and improper federal programs.
Congressional elections will also be very important. In the Senate, Republicans are defending 10 seats and the Democrats 25 seats. All it would take is a three-seat pick up for Republicans to swing the Senate over to the GOP. A Republican-controlled Senate would lead to a more conservative agenda. Republicans hold a 242-192 edge in those seats and most pundits expect Republicans to retain a majority in the next Congress.
Next year is a very important year for conservatism ??? possibly the most important political year of our lifetimes. This last week of 2011 is marked by many ideas to increase taxes and the regulatory burden on average Americans.
Payroll Tax Cut Confusion
The hysterical debate over continuing a cut to payroll taxes for next year is mired in confusion and election-year politics. The House has passed a year-long extension of a payroll tax cut and the Senate has passed a two-month extension of it. Neither of those bills has been signed in to law. This dispute is relatively easy to resolve.
House Republicans passed a $180 billion year-long extension of the 2 percentage point Social Security payroll tax cut and sent it to the Senate. The bill contains an extension of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits with an upper limit of 79 weeks and increased payments to Medicare doctors known as the ???Doc Fix??? for two years. This bill is paid for by freezing the pay for federal employees, instituting fraud protection in the distribution of the child tax credit, increased Medicare premiums and increased fees on mortgages insured by government-sponsored enterprises.
The Senate passed a two-month $33 billion version of the Social Security tax cut to the House before they bailed out of town to celebrate the holidays. The Unemployment Insurance provision preserves the 99 weeks of eligibility. A House provision allowing states to drug-test recipients of UI and request documentation that recipients of benefits are pursuing high-school diplomas are not included in the Senate version.
Neither the House nor Senate has passed the other chamber???s bill, therefore there is no scheduled continuation of this tax relief, UI nor the Doc Fix.
While Americans are struggling to find a job, the political leaders hold press conferences to blame each other while refusing to do the work of the people by coming back to Congress to work. The way to resolve the conflict is to convene a conference committee between the House and Senate to work out differences, which may be scheduled when the leaders come back two days after Christmas.
EPA Job Killing
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delivered a lump of coal to the American people last week when it announced a new job-killing rule. The Utility MACT rule, put out pursuant to the Clean Air Act, would force many coal-fired power plants to shut down by severly limiting the emissions of these plants. The proposed new rules would kill jobs, drive up electricity rates and close many plants.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R.-Wisc.) arguing last week against these new rules, said that, ???in 2008, Mr. Obama said that if he was elected President, electricity rates would ???necessarily skyrocket??? under his cap and trade policy, and that those who built coal-fired power plants would wind up going bankrupt. Now those promises will come true.??? This is yet another job-killing idea of the Obama Administration pushed by radical environmentalists.
The hard left wants to end coal-fired electric power, end drilling for oil in the United States and create a utopian world powered by expensive solar panels with only electric cars.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis delivered a blow to the family farm last week. The Labor Department is working on new rules to severely limit the eligibility of those under 18 to work on a farm. The regulations would limit those under a certain age from operating power-driven equipment and working with livestock.
These new proposed rules were met with outrage on Capitol Hill. The federal government is on the verge of banning a farm parent from getting the kids up to go out an milk the cows. Although there are some exemptions to the rules that might allow some farm kids to continue working on the family farm, this new change in labor laws will drive more the family farmers into the poor house.