Whether the GOP holds onto Congress or not, it’s clear that there needs to be some changes in the way that they’re conducting business. That may mean some changes in leadership. It may mean instituting more party discipline so that members who sell out the base on key issues pay a bigger price for it. And, it definitely means that there needs to be some soul searching about how the Party is going to improve our stature in the eyes of the American public. Towards that end, here’s an agenda that Republicans in Congress should consider pursuing in 2007 and 2008:
1) A Balanced Budget Amendment: The foundation that the modern Republican Party is built upon is limited government and fiscal responsibility. That’s why we need to get back to fundamentals and propose a Balanced Budget Amendment. It’ll prove to the American people and the base that the GOP hasn’t forgotten what the Party stands for and besides, if it was good enough for the Contract with America, it should be good enough for the Republican Party.
2) Non-Retroactive Term Limits: Term limits come right out of the Contract with America and they’re consistent with the conservative belief that the longer congressmen stay in office, the more likely it is that they’ll be corrupted by the system. However, we have to face reality. We’ll never talk members of Congress into term limiting themselves out of office. So, what’s the solution? Non-retroactive term limits. The term limits would only apply to members of Congress who are elected for the first time in the 111th session of Congress. It’s an imperfect solution, but it moves us in the right direction.
3) Continue to Stand With The President On Foreign Policy: 2007 will be the make or break year in Iraq and it’s entirely possible that we could see things come to a head with Iran and North Korea over the next two years as well. Since that’s the case, the GOP needs to continue to stand behind the President, even if the political waters get choppy. The American people need to assured that at least one political Party in this country has the stomach to stand tall when this country is threatened.
4) Continue to Stand With The President On National Security Issues: Protecting this country from foreign enemies is the first job of the United States government and in an age when the Democratic Party no longer up to the task, the Republicans have to show the American people that they will be resolute. Let the Democrats spend their days demanding that we coddle members of Al-Qaeda and insisting that we give constitutional rights to the foreign terrorists decapitating our troops. It will only help emphasize the fact that there is just one Party that’s willing to stand up against this country’s enemies, and it’s not the Democrats.
5) Prove To The American People That We’re Still The Party Of Low Taxes: The GOP should push to make all of President Bush’s tax cuts permanent and, at a minimum, they should try to repeal the Death Tax. Moreover, it would be a great idea to push for a change that would require a supermajority of Congress to raise taxes. Let the Democrats spend the next two years arguing for higher taxes while the GOP tries to reduce the tax burden on the American people.
6) Election Reform: Republicans never have anything to fear from fair elections; so the GOP should take the lead in pushing election reforms. All machines should be required to produce a paper ballot, Voter ID should be required at every polling place, and provisions should be put in place that preclude voting machines from being hooked up to the internet. Poor losers like Al Gore and John Kerry have lessened the people’s faith in our electoral system, but it can be Republicans who prove to everyone’s satisfaction that the system still works as it should.
7) A Health Care Reform Bill: We need to prove to the American people that we can compete with Democrats on “mommy” issues like health care. Towards that end, we should push a bill that will include: tort reform, streamlining the regulations that make bringing a new drug to market so slow and expensive, health care savings accounts, and allowing health insurance companies from anywhere in America to compete for business in any state.
8) A 21st Century Energy Policy: Americans are sick of high gas prices and tired of being told that we can’t meet our energy needs. That’s why the GOP needs to push a large new energy bill that allows more drilling for oil, particularly in ANWR, provides more tax credits for new refineries and nuclear power plants — while simultaneously cutting away at the red tape, lawsuits, and environmental regulations that are stopping the country from meeting its energy needs. Let the Democrats argue that we should have high gas prices and people should get used to wearing sweaters when it gets cold. Let the GOP be the party that looks out for the future of this country.
9) Getting Tough On Illegal Immigration: The American people are sick and tired of illegal immigration and they’re even more sick and tired of Congress refusing to do anything about it. The Republican line needs to reflect that. Any guest worker program and amnesty must come not before, but after the wall is built and our borders are secure. That’s the sort of position people expect from the “Law And Order Party.”
In addition to those items, let’s add Social Security reform, Medicare reform, pushing through conservative judges, Constitutional Amendments banning the burning of the American flag and defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, more ethics reform, pushing for conservative judges, flattening and simplifying our tax system, and expanding free trade policies.
What Republicans up on the Hill need to do is get back to basics. They need to be the “Daddy,” Party again. They need to be the “Contract with America” Party again. Most of all, they need to be the Party of Ronald Reagan again — strength, optimism, patriotism and the belief that America is great because of its people, not because of the government, which only tends to get in their way. Win, lose, or draw in the 2006 elections, it’s time for the Republican Party to stand on principle again in a way that, unfortunately, we haven’t been doing enough over the last few years.