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A New Contract With America
It is incumbent on conservative candidates for political office, no matter what their party affiliation, to commit to supporting policies and legislation that will enable us to reverse the enormous damage already being done by the Obama administration's usurpation of power from the citizens of the United States. There has not been, however, a succinct document that outlines specifically what candidates need to support in order to earn the votes of their fellow Americans, 70 percent of whom, in the words of radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, "know they've been conned." Much of what needs to be done involves repealing the legislative and policy initiatives of the Obama administration, which continue to have dire consequences for the American economy and for our freedom. With the prospects of Republicans/conservatives commanding majorities in both houses likely, here is a list of ten initiatives, a new "contract with America," that every conservative candidate for public office should commit to.
1) Repeal the Health Care Act
While the economy is certainly the most important issue in the coming election, it can be argued that one of the key brakes on economic growth is and will continue to be the ill-advised Obama Health Care legislation. Repeal of this legislation must be one of the first priorities of the new Congress. Already healthcare cost increases mandated by the law are beginning to kick in, with health insurance rates set to rise nearly nine percent in the coming year. In addition, Health Savings Accounts, by which some ten million Americans now insure themselves, will be illegal in 2011. Health Savings Accounts have meant that Americans using them have been able to reduce their insurance premiums by as much as 30 percent, reduce their income taxes, and implement savings plans that can apply to their retirements. In addition, the group Americans for Tax Reform has identified over 20 new or higher taxes in Obamacare, several of which will be initiated when the legislation begins to kick in during the coming year. The law is much too big, complex, and sloppily written to even think of merely trying to change it. It must be repealed, and any candidate not willing to commit to repeal must be rejected.
2) Reinstitute Tax Cuts That Are At Least the Equivalent of Bush's 2001-2003 Cuts
With the Bush tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, and because it appears unlikely that a lame-duck Congress will vote to extend them, it will be incumbent on the new House and Senate to, minimally, reinstitute them. Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would mean that in every tax bracket, from ten percent to 35 percent, rates would rise by three to five percent, with the largest increase at the lowest (ten percent) level. As economist Arthur Laffer has demonstrated, and as experience has proven, the wealthiest Americans find ways to protect their earnings as tax rates rise, so that past a certain point, higher tax rates actually result in lower tax revenues. This, in combination with an economy whose annual growth rate has diminished from five percent to a paltry 1.6 percent over the past four quarters, means that increasing tax rates would have a very damaging effect on our prospects for economic recovery. For this reason, and assuming the Obama administration fails to act between now and the end of the year, the new Congress must act to reinstate the Bush tax cuts at every level.
3) Implement Freezes on Government Hiring and Spending Until the Federal Budget Is Balanced and Federal Debt Is Reduced to 50 Percent of GDP
So skewed has compensation of federal employees become under the Obama administration that government employees make, on average, twice what their private industry counterparts make, when salaries and benefits are considered. Among the policies that would have to be implemented to reverse this is the reduction of federal government employee compensation and benefits packages so that they're in line with those in the private sector. In addition, significant hiring freezes would need to be initiated to reduce government workforce by normal attrition to levels determined by a formula based on their (the reductions') contribution to the lowering of federal government debt. In addition, the Treasury Department has approved more than $40 million to be paid to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives in compensation and bonuses. Congress needs to stop the practice of paying huge bonuses to the bosses of failed federal agencies. We need to reverse the policies and practices of an administration that simply has not demonstrated that it's committed to fiscal responsibility, indeed, that it might be committed to precisely the opposite. In that light, it becomes of utmost importance that the new Congress address government employee compensation and employment levels as a top priority in the effort to turn the tide.
4) Begin Again the Move to Privatize Social Security
When, during the 2000 presidential campaign and early in his administration, President Bush tried to initiate the gradual privatization of Social Security, the left so demonized him and mischaracterized his proposal that reform couldn't get off the ground. It's time to reinitiate a voluntary conversion for those under the age of 50 to private social security investments. This would begin to prevent the federal government's squandering of money designated for social security benefits, and it's the only way to preserve retirement income for those becoming eligible to receive benefits in the coming decades. Those currently eligible for the privatization program who have already accrued substantial social security benefits would be able to keep them and combine them with private social security investments in a hybrid program for their retirement.
5) Repeal TARP and Stimulus Legislation, Return Remaining Money to Taxpayers
We keep hearing that taxpayers are going to make money when TARP funds are paid back with interest. However, among the more striking components of the TARP legislation is that there's no provision to return taxpayer money used to fund the initiative to the rightful owners after it has been paid back to the Treasury Department, with interest, by those who received it. When you factor in a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus package that has gone largely to help states and school districts meet payrolls but has had the unintended effect of making the greater economy stagnate, you understand that one of the important duties of the new Congress is to stop any additional stimulus spending and find a way to put paid-back TARP funds to better use than as a Treasury Department slush fund.
6) Implement Legitimate Incentives to Small and Medium-Sized Businesses to Again Lead Economic Growth
The Obama administration's fiscal and financial policies, coupled with its anti-business agenda, has created so much uncertainty and so shackled the very businesses that could lead us to recovery, that it's imperative for the new Congress to act swiftly and decisively to remedy the situation. For instance, the administration has repeatedly demonized Republicans for resisting its small business bill (H.R. 5297). The bill authorizes the Treasury Department to "purchase preferred stock and other financial instruments" from eligible businesses. In other words, it allows a government agency to take equity positions in small businesses. Rather than again increase government meddling and influence in the private sector, candidates must continue to resist passage of this legislation and instead commit to supporting measures that do help small businesses. The new Congress needs to begin to combat what Lawrence Kudlow describes as Timothy Geithner's "war against investment and capital formation." That means, minimally, keeping the Bush tax cuts. If they're allowed to expire, the current 15 percent maximum federal tax rate on long term capital gains and certain dividends will rise three to five percent for capital gains, and dividends will be taxed at a whopping 39.6 percent, further shackling business development.
7) Implement Energy Reform That Promotes Exploitation of American Oil and Natural Gas Resources
One of the most egregious of failures of the current and previous administrations has been their inability to free up America's enormous proven oil and natural gas reserves for exploitation. Allowing, for instance, the tapping of California offshore oil fields using new slant drilling technology would, within a decade, solve many of California's economic woes, even if that state continued its profligate ways. Add in the ANWR (drilling still stymied by Congressional ban) and Bakken reserves, and the U.S. could add, at today's $70+ per barrel prices, some $35 trillion to its economic output over the next two decades, dramatically improving our country's financial situation and our national security, too much of which we've put in the hands of adversary governments that control so much of the world's oil supply. Add in the facts that, as Thomas Gold has demonstrated in his book, The Deep Hot Biosphere, our oil supplies are being constantly renewed and are virtually inexhaustible and, as the climategate fraud has revealed, there is no credible evidence that the earth is at risk for carbon-based global warming, and "Drill, baby drill!" is the only strategy that makes sense. It is imperative that legislators do everything in their power to make our enormous reserves available to those who will develop them and reduce our dependence on foreign sources.
8) Overturn the Illegal Seizure of Auto Companies by the Obama Administration, Restore Private Ownership of American Businesses
In exchange for ponying up some 50 billion taxpayer dollars, the U.S. Government received a 60 percent ownership stake in General Motors; by contrast, GM's public bondholders received a ten percent share of the company in exchange for its $24 billion in debt holdings. The United Auto Workers union was awarded 17.5% of GM for being chummy with the President. The U.S. Government is now in a position to push the development of such absurdities as the manufacture of the Volt, a currently unviable $42,000 electric mini-car, rather than compete in the marketplace to insure that the company remains afloat. It does this at taxpayer expense. And its collusion with the UAW, whose union contracts are one of the primary reasons GM was set to fail in the first place, is at best illegal. In addition, the U.S. Government owns roughly an 80 percent stake in too-big-to-fail insurance giant AIG, and still holds a substantial position in Citigroup. It's time for Congress to do whatever it can to return these companies to their rightful owners and let them sink or swim on their own.
9) Resume Building the Fence Along America's Southern Borders, Step Up Federal Enforcement of Immigration Law in Concert With Border States
Under the Obama administration, government has become an adversary to the states and has abdicated its responsibility not only to defend our borders, but to uphold our laws. Eric Holder's Justice Department is, perversely, taking the state of Arizona to court to assert the federal government's right not to do its constitutional duty. The Justice Department has apparently determined that being in this country illegally is not a crime and now appears to be dropping thousands of deportation cases against illegal aliens who have not committed "serious" crimes, being in the country illegally apparently not qualifying as such. Against this backdrop, the first orders of duty for newly elected Representatives and Senators must be to restart the building of the border fence between Mexico and Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, and to write legislation that makes illegal the current "anchor baby" situation, in which pregnant women come to the U.S. for the sole purpose of having their babies on American soil and thus tapping into the American medical and social welfare systems because their children, born here, achieve U.S. citizenship automatically. When the fence is built and the anchor baby situation remedied, it will be appropriate to begin to address the issue of immigration law and how we deal with long-term illegal aliens. In the meantime, though, the new Congress must also hold the administration's feet to the fire, demanding that they uphold the laws of our nation. Another fact that so many on the left refuse to acknowledge is that English is not only the language of the United States, it's the one language spoken around the world. There's no country on the planet that doesn't educate its children to speak English. After California made English-only education mandatory, test scores for Hispanic students improved significantly. Learning to speak English must be a requirement for citizenship, and English-only businesses should be encouraged as a help to those seeking citizenship and full participation in our society.
10) Restore Constitutional Government
Among the most disturbing developments of the Obama presidency is its highjacking of the U.S. Constitution. The administration is, in fact, apparently defending its right not to carry out its constitutionally mandated duties with such actions as its lawsuit against the state of Arizona and its imposition of a requirement for every American to purchase health insurance. While it will likely take a return of the presidency to a Republican in 2012 to fully turn the Democratic anti-constitutional tide, a newly elected conservative majority in the House and, quite possibly, in the Senate, must make it clear through the legislative and policy initiatives outlined here that it will no longer brook the President's and his administration's flouting of one of the most important documents on which this country was founded.