Views on the News
February 20, 2010
Views on the News*
This week’s Views on the News will be a little different. The American people are waking up to find a President very different from the one they voted for in November! Over a year ago, the American people placed an enormous amount of trust in President Obama to make good on his promises of renewed responsibility and a new era of political bipartisanship. However, when faced with an extreme economic downturn Obama used the crisis as a means to his liberal ends and with the help of his Congressional allies forced his failed $862 billion stimulus package on America. President Obama and Congressional Democrats have done nothing to help the worker or the entrepreneur to overcome such times sooner. Instead, they conceitedly pushed a job-killing agenda that included a $2.5 trillion government takeover of health care and a cap-and-trade national energy tax scheme that has only brought instability to our economy and insecurity to the American people. Now we are faced with “buyer’s remorse” which is evidenced by a stampede of Independents abandoning President Obama and his leftist Congress. Elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are a reflection of this dissatisfaction. Meanwhile the TEA Party movement has been active articulating average Americans’ rejection of Obama’s “transformation” of government into a giant nanny state. The sheer hubris of this administration has demonstrated the leftist disdain for the Constitution and the opinions of its citizens. “Hope” and “Change” has morphed into “Nope” to listening to Americans opinions and government “Chains” being built to limit our freedoms. Both the people who voted for Obama and now regret it and those who did not vote for Obama are searching for a better alternative to the current administration. Republicans, Conservatives, TEA Party activists, and average Americans are offering their ideas on how to recover from the current administration and to rebuild our country as our Founders planned. The following paragraphs document a number of alternatives that have surfaced over the last couple of years that should be considered as “We, the People,” begin to take back our government in the November 2010 elections.
(“The failure of a stimulus” by Michael Steele dated February 17, 2010 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2010/02/17/the-failure-of-a-stimulus/ )
In May 2008 Congressman Paul Ryan introduced “The Road Map for America's Future” (HR 4529), that is a comprehensive proposal to ensure health and retirement security for all Americans, to lift the debt burdens that are mounting every day because of Washington's reckless spending, and to promote jobs and competitiveness in the 21st century global economy. It is a radical plan to balance the federal budget by slashing the sacred cows of American entitlement spending: Social Security and Medicare. Entitlements have traditionally been a third rail for politicians, which makes this plan unique, and since Democrats have no ideas how to address the impending bankruptcies, they have instead chosen to attack this plan. The difference between the Road Map and the Democrats' approach could not be clearer: it restrains government spending, and hence limits the size of government itself; it rejuvenates the vibrant market economy that made America the envy of the world; and it restores an American character rooted in individual initiative, entrepreneurship and opportunity. Here are the principal elements:
· Health Care. The plan ensures universal access to affordable health insurance by restructuring the tax code, allowing all Americans to secure an affordable health plan that best suits their needs, and shifting the control and ownership of health coverage away from the government and employers to individuals. It provides a refundable tax credit to purchase coverage and keep it with them if they move or change jobs. It establishes transparency in health-care price and quality data, so this critical information is readily available before someone needs health services. State-based high risk pools will make affordable care available to those with pre-existing conditions.
· Medicare. The plan secures Medicare for current beneficiaries, while making common-sense reforms to save this critical program. It preserves the existing Medicare program for Americans currently 55 or older so they can receive the benefits they planned for throughout their working lives. For those under 55, it creates a Medicare payment to be used to purchase a Medicare certified plan. The payment is adjusted to reflect medical inflation, and pegged to income, with low-income individuals receiving greater support. The plan also provides risk adjustment, so those with greater medical needs receive a higher payment. The proposal also fully funds Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) for low-income beneficiaries, while continuing to allow all beneficiaries, regardless of income, to set up tax-free MSAs.
· Social Security. The plan preserves the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older. For those under 55, the plan offers the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees. This proposal includes a property right, so those who own these accounts can pass on the assets to their heirs. The plan also makes the program permanently solvent by combining a modest adjustment in the growth of initial Social Security's benefits for higher-income individuals, with a gradual, modest increase in the retirement age.
· Tax Reform. The plan provides the option of a simplified system that promotes work, saving and investment. This highly simplified code has just two rates and includes a generous standard deduction and personal exemption, no tax loopholes, deductions, credits or exclusions and eliminates the alternative minimum tax. It promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends, eliminates the death tax, and replaces the corporate income tax with a business consumption tax of 8.5%.
“Ryanism” is not only a technical solution to endless deficits; it represents an alternative political philosophy. Democrats have attempted to build a political constituency for the welfare state by expanding its provisions to larger and larger portions of the middle class. Ryan proposes a federal system that focuses on helping the poor, while encouraging the middle class to take more personal responsibility in a dynamic economy. It is the appeal of security vs. the appeal of independence and enterprise. The CBO estimated that Ryan’s plan would accomplish what no other recent proposal could claim to do – it would strengthen the economy and put the government’s finances on a sustainable track. President Obama has called this plan “a serious proposal” and a refined version may serve as a starting point in the discussions about whether major tax increases are necessary to make the federal budget sustainable. It is not too late to take control of our fiscal and economic future, but the longer we wait, the bigger the problem becomes and the more difficult our options for solving it. The Road Map for America’s Future promotes our 1) national prosperity by limiting government's burden of spending, mandates and regulation, 2) ensures the opportunity for individuals to fulfill their human potential and enjoy the satisfaction of their own achievements, and 3) it secures the distinctly American legacy of leaving the next generation better off.
(“A GOP Road Map for America’s Future” by Paul D. Ryan dated January 26, 2010 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808904575025080017959478.html#printMode
“A Roadmap for America’s Future” by Budget Committee Republicans at http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov/
“Obama on the Path to Ruin” by Michael Gerson dated February 10, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/MichaelGerson/2010/02/10/obama_on_the_path_to_ruin )
In 2008, I suggested that if Conservatives were serious about the need to return to their conservative roots as a strategy to win in 2012, a radical new “Return to Common Sense” platform was needed:
· Vision - Return to Common Sense (Conservative):
o Core Principle:Traditional conservative values
§ Return to constitutional principles
§ Return to a citizen government
§ Defend family as the basic American building block
§ Protect life from inception
o Core Principle: Fiscal responsibility
§ Downsize the federal government
§ Get federal government out of businesses where they don't belong
§ Achieve energy independence
§ Unleash free market capitalism
o Core Principle: Strong national defense
§ Show one united face to the outside world
§ Demonstrate global leadership with effective international organizations
§ Defend democracy and freedom from attack
§ Control immigration for the common good
Plan - Re-energize
o Core Principle: Traditional conservative values
§ Enforce original Constitutional intent (eliminate political correctness, multiculturalism, and diversity) http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/philosophy.php
§ Enact terms limits (12 years max) for all elected offices (return to citizen legislators) http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/elections.php
§ Pass a Marriage amendment (protect marriage between a man and a woman) http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/family.php
§ Outlaw abortion (life begins at conception) http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/abortion.php
o Core Principle: Fiscal responsibility
§ Close down and divest nonessential functions (cut federal government by over 50%) http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/budget.php
§ Divest federal entitlement programs (Medicare/Medicaid to the States; privatize Social Security) http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/healthcare.php and http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/socialsecurity.php
§ Strive for energy independence (oil, gas, coal, nuclear, biofuels, etc.) by exploiting all known reserves http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/energy.php
§ Replace progressive income tax with fair, flat 10% tax (no deductions and no exemptions) to pay for downsized federal government http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/taxes.php and http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/economy.php
o Core Principle: Strong national defense
§ Unify foreign policy based on US interests first (DAIM: Diplomatic, Aid, Infrastructure / nation-building, Military) http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/philosophy.php and http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/aid.php
§ Get out of the United Nations and replace with League of Democracies to promote freedom and capitalism http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/unitednations.php
§ Defeat Islamo-fascists wherever they exist http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php and http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/homelandsecurity.php and http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/defense.php
§ Assimilate immigrants into core American values (English language, American core values, US law) http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/immigration.php
American people want to see a vision of where government is going and what it will look like once we achieve it, so this framework starts with a high level vision and then expands into actionable plans to show how we go from where we are today to where we should be in the future.
(“Return to Common Sense Vision and Plan” by David Coughlin dated November 15, 2008 published by Return to Common Sense at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Archives/ViewsOnNews111508.php )
University of Maryland Professor Ron Lipsman has suggested that if Republicans want to regain political power in both the Congress and the Presidency, what is needed is a roadmap to guide coordinated actions to repair the damage done to our country. The first priority is to shrink the government - this must be Job One of a new, powerful conservative government. Here's how to do it:
· A renewed emphasis on the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution must be implemented to make clear that the people are sovereign and that, aside from the limited and defined powers granted to the Federal Government by the Constitution, all remaining powers are reserved to the States and to the people.
· The Federal Government's budget must be restricted to a percentage of GDP more in line with historic figures. We should reduce it to no more than 20%.
· Federal entitlement programs are out of control and by themselves threaten to bankrupt the country. They all should be severely curtailed and ultimately privatized.
· Every federal agency's budget should be cut by at least 25%, and at least 25% of the agencies should be phased out. Several cabinet level departments should be axed.
· All federal taxes (income, payroll, capital gains, estate, etc.) should be cut by at least 25%.
· The number of federal regulations should be cut by at least 50%.
· The deficit and national debt must be addressed. There should be statutory or constitutional limits set on the permissible size of the deficit as a percentage of GDP - never more than 5% as it has been historically (except during the two world wars). Also a Constitutional mandate for a balanced budget is also needed, which could only be violated in times of national emergency and only upon a three-quarters vote of Congress.
· The Federal Government should sell off large portions of its tangible assets including buildings, land and equipment. The proceeds should go toward reducing the national debt.
· Judicial power must be reined in. Appointments for life should be terminated and justices should serve fixed terms (e.g., 10, perhaps 15 years).
· The Federal Reserve should be reexamined. Its power and responsibilities should be open for serious discussion.
The second priority to guide conservatives’ actions is to defeat Islamic fundamentalism. Above all, we must recognize and appropriately name the danger we face: A resurgent, worldwide and radical Muslim movement that intends to destroy the United States, Israel and Western Civilization. Like the previous totalitarian movements we defeated, Nazism and Communism, radical Islam is bent on world domination. Unlike the previous two, radical Islam is not led from a single nation-state, but that does not make the threat to us any less dangerous. Here are some of the steps we must take:
· Although there is not a single source, there are identifiable sites of greatest strength, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. We must impose severe sanctions on the first and punitive measures on the latter two to induce modified behavior. Military action must never be ruled out.
· We must make clear that, should circumstances warrant, Teheran is a potential military target, and also Medina and Mecca. That will focus their attention on the price they might pay for pursuing their mad quest.
· The US must beef up its military. That means a larger force and the most advanced weapons, conventional, nuclear and those designed for asymmetric warfare. We must restore the capabilities of our intelligence services.
· We should recognize that Israel is our most reliable ally in this struggle and cease our fixation on the so-called "Palestinian problem." Were Israel to disappear and Fatah/Hamas/Hezbollah to rule the Holy Land, it would not change by one iota the fundamental goal of the Islamic radicals to obliterate the West.
· We must find a way to reenergize our NATO allies: cease appeasement of our common Muslim enemies (which are increasingly found inside their borders); beef up their military capabilities; and seriously engage in this global struggle that threatens their existence even more than ours.
· We should stop apologizing for "past American sins," reaffirm our role as the world's chief bastion and model of freedom and go on the offensive against the enemy that endangers us. We need to engage the Jihadists in the court of world opinion as well as on the battlefield.
The third priority is to recapture the culture from the Left that has almost completely usurped it over the last century. Here are the key philosophical principles that should guide us:
· A reverence for, allegiance to and study of the US Constitution must be a characteristic of all Americans, both young and old.
· Similarly, the study of and pride in US history must be ubiquitous among the people.
· Individual liberty must be restored as our highest goal. This does not mean an entitlement mentality that sees all of us with equal outcomes at the end of the day, but rather equal opportunity for all of us to achieve at the highest levels we can attain.
· A belief in free markets, entrepreneurship, democratic capitalism and a rejection of the idea that the government can run our economy more effectively than the entrepreneurs, investors, shopkeepers and laborers who create and populate our job market.
· Clean up the filth and degeneracy, propagated by the media, academia and the legal profession, which poses for culture in liberal America. Religion needs to play a role.
· Restore pride in myriad aspects of the traditional culture that have been marginalized: Calvinist work ethic, humility, restraint, thrift, nuclear family.
· Cease and desist all multicultural foolishness like: bilingual education, diversity programs, group rights, gay marriage and coddling of illegal immigrants.
· Look to religious, civic, neighborhood and private philanthropic organizations to provide charity to the less fortunate — NOT the government.
There are two bold steps that would truly herald a re-founding of America as a Constitutional republic. First, some of the above-mentioned steps might require a modification of the Constitution, so convene a Constitutional Convention to fix it. Second, the President, Members of Congress, and Supreme Court justices all pledge to protect and defend the Constitution. We need to hold all of them equally responsible for safeguarding the Constitution. The U.S. has exhibited remarkable rejuvenative powers in response to numerous existential crises in the past. Today’s assault on our country his one poses a greater problem in that the crisis has been festering for a century and its true nature is hidden from much of the population, but our American exceptionalism can overcome and return our country to its former greatness.
(“A Flight of Fantasy II: A manifesto for Conservatives When They Regain Power” by Ron Lipsman dated February 12, 2010 published by Intellectual Conservative at http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2010/02/12/a-flight-of-fantasy-ii-a-manifesto-for-conservatives-when-they-regain-power/ )
The nation's top Conservative Leaders have signed a document entitled the “Mount Vernon Statement” that vows to return to Constitutional conservatism and its founding principles, which has been under sustained attack by the big government liberals and moral relativism. The Mount Vernon conservatives assert that they need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The conservatism of the declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue. The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic. The statement also seeks to unite the goals of social conservatives, economic conservatives and national security conservatives. The statement says that constitutional conservatism is based on key first principles for a “consistent and meaningful policy agenda.” Here are the principles as presented in the Statement:
· “It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.”
· “It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.”
· “It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.”
· “It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.”
· “It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith."
Conservative leaders in America wrote and signed a similar statement of beliefs and principles, in September 1960, called “The Sharon Statement” which helped bind conservatives and libertarians in America to pursue broad common goals. It proved vital in the rise of the conservative movement and the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 and 1984. The Mount Vernon Statement has been issued the day before the opening of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the nation's largest gathering of conservative political activists, and at a critical point in an election year.
(“Mount Vernon Conservatives” by W. James Antle, III dated February 16, 2010 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2010/02/16/mount-vernon-conservatives
“’Mt. Vernon Statement’ of Conservative Principles Released to Public” by Fred Lucas dated February 17, 2010 published by Cybercast News Service at http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/61476
“The Mount Vernon Statement” dated February 17, 2010 published by http://www.mrcaction.org/550/statement.asp )
Tea Party Leaders are asking voters to help draft a new and improved “Contract from America” that will identify the top 10 national priorities that must be addressed. In 1994 the then House Speaker Newt Gingrich used his “Contract with America” as a blueprint for action in Congress. Never shy, Newt has proposed a “2010 Contract With America:”
· Jobs, jobs, jobs - Gingrich recommends a 50% reduction in payroll taxes, a 100% write-off for small business investment in tools and technology, zero capital gains, and lowering the corporate tax to 12.5%. Obviously, we are talking about private sector job creation.
· Balance the budget - From 1994 to 1998, federal spending growth was held to 2.9% annually which resulted in four years of surpluses and a $405 billion reduction in the national debt.
· An American Energy Plan - Drill here, drill now. Build nuclear reactors. Rein in the Environmental Protection Agency's "bureaucratic dictatorship on energy production."
· Congressional Appropriation Reform - Eliminate earmarks, post bills 72 hours before voting, reverse the Republican spending habits that undermined fiscal discipline during the Bush years.
· Litigation Reform - The states have found the quickest way to tort reform is to cap open-ended "non-economic damages." Compensating hospital costs and lost wages is fine, but open-ended awards for pain-and-suffering or punitive damages are limited only by jurors' imagination.
· Real Health Reform - Allow the sale of health insurance across state lines, extend the tax benefits given to employees to everyone, promote Health Savings Accounts.
· Every Child Gets Ahead - Promote and facilitate vouchers, grants, and charter schools.
· Protect Religious Liberty - Defend the religious majority from a "shockingly and increasingly anti-religious elite" and "block every effort to coerce religious people on abortion, marriage and other issues of conscience and drive God out of public life."
· Protect Americans, Not the Rights of Terrorists – Stop treating invading terrorists as domestic criminals and see them for what they are -- enemy combatants.
· Defend America - "Rebuild our capital investment in the powerful defensive force in the world," which can be reconciled with balancing the budget.
Tea Party Patriots held a press conference at the CPAC conference to announce the launch of thecontract.org, where activists will use to help “draft” their “Contract from America” by voting for their top 10 issues. More than a thousand ideas for the contract were submitted and were edited down to 22 through the help of hundreds of Tea Party activists and a series of online surveys. The short list of ideas that the final 10 will be selected from are as follows:
· Demand a Balanced Budget - Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike.
· Stop the Tax Hikes - Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to the income, capital gains, and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011.
· Commit to Government Transparency - Every bill, in its final form, will be made public seven days before any vote can be taken and all government expenditures authorized by any bill will be easily accessible on the Internet before the money is spent.
· Protect the Constitution - Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.
· Pass Real Health Care Reform - Improve affordability of health insurance by permitting all Americans access to all health insurance plans sold anywhere in the U.S. and allow small businesses and associations to pool together across state lines to buy insurance.
· Enact Fundamental Tax Reform - Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code.
· End Runaway Government Spending - Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in federal spending to the sum of inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.
· Let Us Save - Allow all Americans to opt out of Social Security and Medicare to put those same payroll taxes in a personal account they own, control, and can leave to whomever they choose.
· Protect Internet Freedom - No regulation or tax on the Internet.
· Give Parents More Choices in the Education of Their Children - Improve American education by reforming the broken federal role, eliminating ineffective and wasteful programs, giving parents more choices from pre-school to high school, and improving the affordability of higher education.
· Pass an ‘All of the Above’ Energy Policy - Authorize the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation, lowering prices and creating competition.
· Protect Freedom of the Press - Prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from using funds to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine in any form.
· Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government - Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that audits all federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better at the states.
· Protect Private Property Rights - Block state and local governments that receive federal grants from exercising eminent domain over private property for the primary purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenues.
· Reject Cap & Trade - Prevent the EPA from implementing costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.
· Stop the Pork - Place a moratorium on all earmarks until a balanced budget is achieved, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark.
· No Czar Regulation Without Representation - All “lawmaking” regulations must be affirmatively approved by Congress and signed into law by the president, as the Constitution requires.
· Audit the Fed - Begin an audit of the Federal Reserve System.
· No More Bailouts - The federal government should not bail out private companies and should immediately begin divesting its stake in the private companies it owns from recent bailouts.
· Stop Career Politicians and Curb Lobbyist Power - Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require Congressional term limits. No person shall be elected to the Senate more than twice or to the House of Representatives more than four times.
· Sunset Regulations - All regulations will be “sunset” after 10 years unless renewed by Congressional vote.
· Let Us Watch - Broadcast all non-security meetings and votes on C-SPAN and the Internet.
Once finalized the final “Contract from America” will be presented to Congress on April 15th asking members of Congress to sign the final document. Thirty-five years ago at CPAC, a call for “bold colors and no pale pastels” came from Ronald Reagan and today, that same call comes from the American people themselves.
(“Tea Party leaders ask voters to help draft ‘Contract from America’” by Alex Pappas dated February 15, 2010 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2010/02/15/tea-party-leaders-ask-voters-to-help-draft-contract-from-america/
“An American Agenda: Your Priorities for 2010 and Beyond” dated January 22, 2010 published by Contract from America at http://www.thecontract.org/2010/01/an-american-agenda-your-priorities-for-2010-and-beyond/
“Contract Renewal” by William Tucker dated February 17, 2010 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2010/02/17/contract-renewal )
* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Individual issue updates this week include:
· Civil Rights at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/civilrights.php
· Energy at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/energy.php
· Environment at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/environment.php