Skip to comments.Charen: Republican Skirts of Fire
Posted on 01/27/2006 2:42:19 PM PST by cgk
By Mona Charen
Jan 27, 2006
Republicans should not sleep well at night. The party has achieved comfortable majority status just when it seems to have lost its animating vision. And when parties exist merely to maintain themselves in power, corruption soon follows.
There may well be less than meets the eye in the Jack Abramoff scandal -- time will tell. But the perception of corruption can be devastating. Newt Gingrich's 1994 triumph was propelled in no small measure by the perception of Democratic corruption -- the House bank scandal, the Rostenkowski indictment, Speaker Jim Wright's forced resignation, Tony Coehlo's junk bond deal. There were other matters (HillaryCare, gays in the military), but clean government was arguably a key factor.
If Republicans gaze north of the border to Canada, they see another entrenched majority that was just ousted. Thanks in part to a kickback scandal involving Liberal politicians in Quebec, the Conservatives achieved victory for the first time in 12 years. This, in a country where Ted Kennedy would be a centrist.
So, yes, Republicans had better get on the reform bandwagon. By all means end the unsavory practice of accepting lavish trips and sports tickets from lobbyists. More substantively, a move to eliminate earmarking -- if it reduces government bloat -- is all to the good.
But more than scandal should trouble Republican sleep. They can stamp out the scandal flames on their skirts but still be crushed by the collapsing roof if they don't take care of the deeper problem. That deeper problem is their raison d'etre.
In 1994, the Republican majority passed welfare reform, arguably the most successful domestic initiative since the federal highway system. And, though they lost, they fought hard to balance the budget. Aside from tax reform, what were the Republican majority's domestic accomplishments during 2005? 2004? 2003? In 2002, retreating from the reformist agriculture bill of 1996, Congress passed and the president signed the largest federal agriculture bill in history. Ditto with education spending. The execrable 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill has saddled the nation with a new entitlement that will dwarf even the crushing liability of Social Security. According to the Government Accountability Office, the government's unfunded promises to retirees under Medicare will be $27.7 trillion over 75 years, with the new prescription drug benefit comprising $8.1 trillion of that obligation. By comparison, Social Security has an unfunded liability of $3.7 trillion over the same period. (Source: California Healthline) It is impossible to even speak of the $286.4 billion transportation bill without covering one's nose with a hankie. That piece of pork was approved by a vote of 412 to eight in the House and 91 to four in the Senate. (And they say there's no comity in Washington!)
To be sure, an enormous chasm divides Republicans from Democrats on national defense related issues, and this will remain an area of Republican strength. But the party is badly in need of a domestic agenda consistent with traditional conservative principles.
A few brief suggestions:
-- Assimilation. Republicans are divided on immigration. Wall Street and business interests need the cheap labor; but workers and border state residents bitterly resent the crime, job losses and disorder that illegal as well as legal immigrants trail in their wake. One solution all segments of the party will agree upon is a renewed commitment to assimilation as the norm for legal immigrants. Democrats want the United States to change to accommodate immigrants. The Republican policy should be just the opposite. Yes, we welcome immigration, but only for those who are willing to Americanize by learning English, renouncing their ancestral homes and pledging allegiance to this country.
-- Health Care Reform. The Democrats will not let this issue lie dormant much longer, and their reform will be big government cubed. Republicans must strike first with market-oriented reforms that encourage cost cutting and efficiency. Decoupling the tax deduction for medical expenses from employers and giving it directly to consumers is one such reform.
-- Smaller Government. Fred Barnes argues in his new book
that smaller government is a pipe dream. Welfare reform looked that way too in 1992. So did a Republican Congress for that matter. Smaller government isn't just desirable, it may well be indispensable if America is not to slide into the sort of decline Europe is in already.
Mona Charen is the author of Do-Gooders and Useful Idiots.
Potential attack on Iran may keep the Security issue upfront and propell Pubs to another victory.
Otherwise, Iraq and corruption are going to be very very costly.
Good point. The GOP spent a lot of time and trouble to get power. They can't forget how and why they got there. They must project a positive affirmative vision.
The Democrats will always have a punchers chance to upset things because the party in power gets blamed for what goes wrong, even the weather.
Well, if necessary, we need to time the upcoming war with Iran correctly, then. Politics have always been a consideration in war.
"One solution all segments of the party will agree upon is a renewed commitment to assimilation as the norm for legal immigrants."
An excellent suggestion.
"Decoupling the tax deduction for medical expenses from employers and giving it directly to consumers is one such reform."
Another excellent idea, esp. since many, if not most, workers now must bear the cost of their coverage.
"Yes, we welcome immigration, but only for those who are willing to Americanize by learning English, renouncing their ancestral homes and pledging allegiance to this country."
AMEN AMEN AMEN!
Yet another "Conservative" pundit who seems so completely incapable of actually attacking the Democrats on ANYTHING. Say Mona, why did Abramoff directed Pacs give almost $2 MILLION to Democrats? Gee would it NOT be refreshing if maybe say, 1/10th of the time the "Conservative Pundits" actually attacked the Democrats for SOMETHING instead of mindlessly regurgitating the DNC talking points like the REST of the Junk Media?
Positively ignorant. Sorry but anyone who takes polls that increase the Democrat respondents by 1/3 SERIOUSLY is completely ignorant of political reality. Why don't you drop the facade and change your handle to The Democrat. That would have intellectual honesty. Your political analysis is based on wishful thinking NOT serious consideration of the facts.
Riddle me THIS. Suppose you changed the polling data to poll an equal number of Reps and Dems OR changed the polling data to poll 1/3 MORE Republicans? Then what would all you panic stricken "Republicans" be screaming???? POLLS ARE PROPAGANDA, NOT REALITY.
If you crystal ball gazers are going make these pompous hysteric predictions, at LEAST learn how to read the tea leaves correctly.
I am saving this post. Going to track all you Chicken Littles this time. We go thru this SAME utter ignorance EVERY election cycle. We get these pompous pronouncements of doom and gloom from the same handful of Freepers. Funny thing is, they all magically VANISH the day of the election. Going to track you nuts this time. Going to email your pronouncements back to you the day after the election for an explanation of why your prearrangement's are so vast different then electoral reality.
All you Chicken Little's better start dreaming up your rationalizations when this blows up in your faces just like 2002 and 2004 did.
First the Oliver North thread I posted and now this thread. Let me return the favor, Okay?
So YOU don't know Jack!. We've seen your pronouncements before, MNJohnnie. You outed me (quote: "YOU are SO nailed"!!!!!!) as working for my "moveon.org paymasters". Please. If anyone has lost credibility going after FReepers time and time again, it is you. One has only to skim through your posts to see how often you turn on your fellow FReepers and label them "nuts", "chicken littles", the "same half dozen freepers" and "whiners"/"whine all the time crowd".
What do you bring to the forum besides the ability to cut & paste your same tired accusations? Aside from that uncanny ability to get away with breaking one of the first rules of FR: Please enjoy our forum, but also please remember to use common courtesy when posting and refrain from posting personal attacks, profanity, vulgarity, threats, racial or religious bigotry, or any other materials offensive or otherwise inappropriate for a conservative family audience.
the unsavory practice of accepting lavish tripsAll trips should stop. Period. "Fact finding trips" are 100% USDA grade A horse manure. There are no "fact finding" trips. The idea is an affront to the intelligence of every 3rd grader in the country.
I can think of only one exception to my No Trips rule: visits to American troops in the field for the sole purpose of boosting morale. Not "fact finding". When congresspukes (of all parties) go on a "fact finding" trip, it is an exercise in extreme lying to the American people.
Bring the Congresspeople Home! Now!
You have a lot of misplaced anger. Are you getting help for your problem?
Thanks. ;). I pinged you because you were the intial 'target' on that thread. I'm glad you didn't mind. No return reply, but I wasn't expecting one, kind of like before.
I agree COMPLETELY. There are not enough of these kinds of trips, IMO. Even some empty-headed celebs manage to make the trip to boost morale.