Previously in the article “Republican Ideas” I laid out four items that I believe would weld the Republican party a coalition that could win elections. They were
1. Kill the terrorists before they kill us
2. Give us back our money
3. Zero Earmarks
4. Obey all of the Constitution
I am thinking that this list is too complex. It also has the wrong priorities. Therefore I will provide a simpler list:
1. Zero Earmarks
2. Cut Spending
The reason I have shortened the list is that our own deficit is far more destructive that anything the Islamic Trolls can do. Also, taxes, while important are not the root of the evil. When government spending eats up three to five percent of our GDP, as it did the first 150 years our country existed, a bad tax policy is not an issue. When government, Federal-State-Local is easting up over 40% of our GDP as it does today, a good tax policy is not possible.
At all three levels of government we must reduce government spending. This cannot happen until the pork-barrel spending, today referred to as earmarks, is eliminated. Politicians who engage in earmarks should be eliminated during primary season. This of course requires our electorate to focus on what their representatives are doing in Leesburg, Richmond and Washington; in that order.
A simple approach is to ask our current and future representatives at all three levels of government to sign a ‘No Earmarks’ pledge. This forces them to take a position that we can hold them accountable for. I can see a solid man like Tag Greason signing this pledge and living up to it. I cannot imagine any of the current crop of big spenders on our Board of Supervisors signing such a pledge. Refusal to sign the pledge is a statement in itself. One conservatives can use to pummel our BOS into submitting to the will of the people, or to be shown the door on election day.
It is not possible to enact a law that makes earmarks or pork illegal. In a real sense ‘bringing home the bacon’ is a lot like pornography. You really cannot define it, but you know it when you see it.
We as a nation spend too much. Our government at all three levels spends too much. The issue is not taxes. The issue is spending. If expenditures exceed revenues you are on an unsustainable path. There are no miracles. The state, if it bails out the county is then in the same position, except on a bigger scale. If the Federal government steps in, then it too is in the same fiscally unsustainable position. Raising taxes forever is not a solution either. The Laffer curve shows clearly that once taxes go beyond a given percentage of income, the rate of growth in revenues declines.
Therefore the only choice is to have the courage to cut spending. This requires that the elected politician, at whatever level of government, must have the spine to stand up to the special interests, and reduce spending. Such a stance is not political suicide, such a stance will earn the gratitude of the 40% of the country that is self identified as conservative, and most of the moderates. The 20% of the country that is self identified as liberal will fret and whine; but most conservatives see such and revel in it.
The road to fiscal sanity requires we as a nation must recognize what is it that government should do, what it can do, and what it should not do. The constitution in Article 1, Section B outlines the 21 activities that are in the purview of the federal government. The 9th and 10th Amendments basically say unless it is specifically permitted, it is forbidden for congress to do. It would serve our nation well if over a period of years we bring the government into line with the Constitution our Congress and President have sworn to uphold.
At the State and local level the problems are both more complex, but easier to fix. First of all the state and local governments have more latitude than the Federal. Therefore pinning them down is harder. However, on the flip side what is the proper role of our state and local government can be restricted more readily by the fact that unlike the Federal government, they cannot print more money.
We as conservatives have a long road ahead of us. The culture is being taught to be dependent on government for things that the people really should be doing for themselves. This is the fault of conservatives. That is correct, it is our fault. The conservative’s motto can be summed up as ‘leave me the hell alone’, the trouble with this mindset is that we have then left the field wide open to those values and world views that are antithetical to liberty. Socialism is slavery, what else can dependence be? We must speak to this reality in the public square, and this must be the guiding principal for all future legislation, and choice of candidates. It may take more than 20 years of fiscal conservative activism to undo the damage of 80 years of progressive rule in our country. While this is daunting, it must be done.