President-elect Obama will take office on January 20, 2009, and we are going to have to live with him for no less than four years. Hopefully, he will have strength in his convictions and not cave to the left wing of his Party, especially its leadership, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. If he governs from the center as promised, things will not be too bad. If he doesn’t, we are going to have a long two years until we can get control of Congress back.
This little essay is to hopefully engineer what the Republican Party must do to get back into the mainstream thinking of the American people. We must create a plan and vision that will win back the faith of the citizens and thereby, get us back to a majority position in Congress, key state legislatures and the state executive mansions. If these ideas are adapted quickly, the party should be able to reverse the losses of 2008 and make strong gains in 2010. The Party will not even have to wait until 2012.
Eight years of President George W. Bush and his ideologues from the far right have completely alienated the majority of the American people. At the present time, President Bush has the lowest approval rating on record. For the most part, it isn’t his positions that have created this alienation, it’s the way things have been handled and communicated to the American people. It is my firm belief that twenty years from now, “W” will be considered a good, if not great president. The Bush Doctrine will be considered the main reason why the war on terror will be won and will have been adopted by many countries other than the United States. Many people will regret all of the Bush bashing that has occurred during his presidency.
In order to get our party’s position back as the party of the people and the country, we must look to The Great Communicator himself, Ronald Reagan. His policies are just as important today as they were 28 years ago when he became president. In fact, Reagan inherited an economy from President Carter that was arguably worse than the economy that President-elect Obama is being handed. In 1980 Inflation was at 13.6%, now it is approximately 2.8%. Unemployment was at 7.1%, now it’s at 6.5%. Mortgage Rates were at approximately 14% and now they are under 6.5%. This is definitely not the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression despite the politicking of Mr. Obama and his party.
Let’s look at some of Reagan’s key policies and why they should still be the backbone of the Republican Party: 1. federalism; 2. smaller government; 3. lower taxes; and, 4. strong foreign policy without isolationism.
Not one of the candidates for public office this year spoke of federalism. Neither side of the debate centered on giving power back to the states and limiting the size of the federal government. Obama spoke of 700 billion in new spending and promised tax cuts to 95% of the American people. It is impossible to increase the size of government that dramatically and still lower taxes. The deficit will be increased exponentially. Senator McCain did not challenge this and when he did, his response was not clear and badly communicated.
We currently have the largest deficit in United States history and it is growing. President Bush, unfortunately, is a big government Republican. This is against all of our principles going back to before the Reagan revolution. We must limit the size of government and give power back to the states. This was one of the cornerstones of President Reagan’s domestic policy.
By making the central government smaller, we can then implement supply side economics again and talk about lowering taxes, creating higher government revenues and lowering the deficit. It has been proven time and time again that when you lower taxes, government revenues goes up. This is what has happened over the last eight years. But, unfortunately, most Americans are unaware of this. President Reagan got the message across. Senator McCain did not.
Senator McCain was correct in stating that spending should be frozen, but, again, he couldn’t communicate it. However, this is not the only answer. Government must be made smaller across the board and this is the message to get to the American people. And, we must pursue this message in the same manner of Celebrity that President-elect Obama pursued the presidency.
Health care is not a problem that can be solved with a simple solution. The plan of President-elect Obama will not work. Estimates say that Obama’s health plan will add approximately 60 billion per year to the federal budget deficit. This is in addition to his proposed spending of approximately 700 billion.
If we must have any new spending at all, it must be in the form of education because education is the country’s future. We cannot let the Asian countries continue to outperform us on Science and Math test scores. Our scores in these areas have continually gone down while rising in other parts of the world. “No Child Left Behind” was a good start, but it didn’t go far enough. In order to remain competitive, education must be a key part of our policy and platform. This should be accomplished without caving in to the teacher’s unions. Teachers are not as underpaid as they would make it sound. It is just that the Democratic Party refuses to attack them because of their affiliation with unions and specifically, the teacher’s union.
We cannot allow the protectionism and the potential isolationism of the country to grow. We have got to keep NAFTA in place and expand it to all of the Western Hemisphere. NAFTA has been proven to create jobs for all of its participants. Plus, it creates an economic area that has the ability to compete with the EU and the growth of China and India.
The Obama administration will attack out-sourcing and claim that this is one of the evils of the Bush Administration. We cannot allow this to happen. By becoming isolationist and forcing businesses to hire within America or suffer tax consequences, we are limiting the potential for growth. If we are permitted to outsource certain positions that Americans do not want anyway, we are creating more capital to spend at home on higher paying, more skilled jobs.
The War on Terror will not just go away regardless of how bad the new administration would like it to. It must be pursued and valiantly fought on all fronts. We cannot waive the white flag of surrender in Iraq, and we cannot continue to be stuck in a quagmire in Afghanistan. If we do not win both of these wars, we will be opening the door to Osama Bin Laden and his band of crazies. Another terrorist attack will become inevitable. President Bush’s policies have not permitted one since 9/11. We must not allow another attack, ever.
In 1994, Newt Gingrich’s and his Republican think tank created the “Contract with America.” It is my opinion that we should modify this agreement to address current problems and economic realities. However, this new “Contract with America” should not be for just Congress, as the 1994 version, but it should be for the entire Republican Party. This should be done immediately and actively publicized from now until the next election cycle in 2010.
Right wing pundits should publicize it, the internet should be used to advertise it and it should be made available to the American public at the grass roots level. This is how President-elect Obama won the White House. Let’s learn from what Obama did and not only use it to our advantage, but perfect his way of getting the message across.
What should be in this new “Contract with America?” Let’s
start by discussing what should not be in it. For once this party has got to learn to keep away from socially divisive issues regardless of our stance on them. We are pro-life and anti-stem research. We are also against gay marriage. However, we should avoid these issues unless specifically asked and even then, downplay them. These issues drive the independent voters away and this is what we need to bring the country back to the right from its current left-center position. Our base will always know what our position is on these issues. That will not change. But, we must get the independents, not only back, but actively on our side. We need the Reagan Democrats to return to the party in force. Many, many votes were lost in 2008 because of the abortion issue on its own.
What other voters do we need to become the majority party in this country again? How do we attract the Hispanic vote that “W” had and is no longer ours? What do we do about getting the vote of the higher educated? How do we keep our base? All of these issues must be addressed and spoken to in the new “Contract with America.”
Here are a sampling of issues that I believe should be addressed in the new “Contract with America.”
1. Investment in Education and Technology – We should immediately invest in programs that will create jobs in the United States, specifically in high technology and education. One suggestion is to bring the space program back up to its stature and glory of the 1960’s. This is the final frontier and the source of a majority of our technological advances for the past 40 years. If we bring the luster back to the space program, we will create jobs at all levels of the economy, from small to big business and from laborer to engineer. In addition, we will be creating jobs that require higher levels of both mathematical and scientific education. And, to counter the Democratic Argument, the money is not spent in space; it’s spent right here on Earth in the United States. Additionally, the space program could be a source of inspiration and pride in America in the same manner it was in the 1960s.
We should give tax credits to industries that support, directly and indirectly, the space program. This would include computer information technologies, engineering and manufacturing. This tax credits can be used to not only create new jobs in the United States, but to also stimulate investment in high technology which will be the cornerstone of the future.
2. Small Business Investment Tax Credit – Bring back the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to any new business with less than fifty employees. As we all know, the core of the economy is small business. It is responsible for the creation of many jobs and a large percentage of the GDP.
3. Limit Capital Gains Taxes – The Capital Gains Tax rate will be fixed at 15%. This will stimulate both Small and Large Business. It will create jobs, and when used in conjunction with the Small Business ITC and the High Technology Investment Credit will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
4. Western Hemisphere Free Trade Agreement – The party will do whatever is necessary to create a hemispheric free trade zone. There are some rogue countries that will be left out of this for obvious reasons, such as Venezuela, Columbia and Cuba. However, the mere creation of this zone may drive the rogue nations into compliance and capitulation with Western Hemisphere policies. This will immediately create a market that will compete and overtake the EU and make trading within the hemisphere more profitable. It will also create jobs in the same way as NAFTA.
5. Health Care Reform – Give all businesses a tax credit that will be revenue neutral if they provide basic health care for their employees. The percentage of the tax credit should be equal to what the average company is getting as a tax deduction for providing health care. The tax credit will also apply to businesses that provide coverage for the entire family provided that all employees are treated equally.
This will immediately benefit small business which is where the majority of uncovered employees work as they will receive a tax credit in lieu of a deduction. As long as this is revenue neutral, it should allow more businesses to give employees health care.
Health Savings Accounts should be improved to cover all people and should be a deductible item at all levels of income.
These two options will probably not provide 100% health care coverage, but it will also not change the entire health care industry. It will be a start in the right direction.
6. Balance the Budget – Return to the Clinton era balanced budgets that were orchestrated while the Republican Congress was in control of the country. It should be done without tax increases by limiting the amount of federal spending. All programs not relating to national security, technology, education and healthcare should be slashed across the board.
Further, any surpluses created during the balanced budget era should not be used for new spending of any kind. They should immediately be used to pay down the deficit. We cannot make the same mistake of the Clinton era and spend the surpluses or projected surpluses. If we have them, pay off the debt. This will create larger surpluses because of lower interest payments and allow the debt to be further paid down.
Most Americans would be willing to give up some federal programs in order to balance the budget and pay off the debt. This is one of the strongest challenges that the country will face in the future. We cannot mortgage our country away to debt being held by foreigners.
7. A Constitutional Amendment Permitting the Line Item Veto – This will show the American public that the Congress and the Party really means everything they say. President Reagan could not get this passed and the original “Contract with America,” was not successful in getting this passed. However, it is extremely important for the President to be able to eliminate earmarks and the line item veto is one simple way to succeed.
The 700 million dollar bailout that was passed during the Presidential Election only passed because of all of the earmarks attached to it at the last minute. The President should have been able to veto this “pork” out of the bill and actually create a real stimulus package.
8. National Security – We will do whatever is necessary to secure our country and its citizens. There should never be another 9/11. If this means expanding the Bush Doctrine then we should. However, we should never start a war based upon questionable intelligence, and we should never attack or air strike within the national borders of an ally without their knowledge and consent, except in cases of extreme and imminent danger.
The Borders should be patrolled to stop the potential flow of terrorists into the country. The Transportation Safety Administration should be adequately funded and given the use of any and all equipment necessary to secure these ends. This should be one of the only branches of government that will be permitted to grow during a Republican Administration.
We should do everything in our power to support a strong, safe and prosperous Israel. It is our strongest ally in the Middle East. It is also the homeland of one of the largest minorities in the country and a religious homeland for millions of Christians. Keeping Israel safe and prosperous, gives us the ally necessary to defend our borders from Muslim extremists.
9. Energy Independence – We will do whatever is necessary to stop shipping our fortune overseas to countries that don’t like us. We must learn from the past and not repeat it. In the 1970’s oil was short and prices went up. The American public stopped buying gas guzzlers for a few years. Then, it was back to our old tricks with the resurgence of the gas guzzler; the SUV.
We must secure our energy independence by lowering our consumption of fo
ssil fuels. The auto industry will be given whatever incentives are necessary to increase the gas mileage of traditional and non-traditional vehicles. Fifty miles to the gallon should be the goal for 50% of all vehicles on the road in the next ten years. And, from that point, it should go even higher.
In addition, we should drill in our own backyard wherever possible, including ANWR. As long as we need fossil fuels, let’s take them from our own backyard. This will create American prosperity, and not more prosperity in the Middle East.
Nuclear energy, natural gas, wind and solar power should not only be explored but be encouraged. Tax credits and incentives should be given to any industry that actively promotes their usage from both a research and a consumption approach.
Not only will this end our dependence on foreign oil, but it will also be another means of creating jobs. Exploration, whether it be in space, high technology or energy will create jobs and wealth at all levels of income.
These are just some of the points I believer are necessary for a resurgent Republican party. If we find leaders that can accurately communicate these points and do it with the flair of President-elect Obama, we will be able to take the Congress back by 2012 and hopefully, the presidency as well four yeas later.
© 2008 Frank T. DeMartini – All rights reserved. Permission to be copied will be granted freely upon request.