In recent weeks, Democrats in Congress have increasingly referred to Republicans as “The Party of No”. By this they mean to say that Congressional Republicans have run out of ideas on how to solve our country’s domestic ills. All they know how to do is say “no” and have no clue on “how to get America moving again.”
Historically, it has been normal for a sitting President to set a domestic agenda and for the opposition party to respond to that agenda. Sometimes, however, the opposition party in Congress sets an agenda of its own, as the Republicans led by Newt Gingrich did in the 1990s, when they adopted their “contract for America” and pledged their allegiance to the principles of the contract if elected during the midterm elections of the first Clinton Administration. Fresh from a victory over Hillary Clinton’s national health care plan, the Republicans clearly defined what they believed in and distinguished their vision for America’s future from the vision of the Democrats. In the process, the Republicans “nationalized” the election and took control of both houses of congress for the first time in many years, because the voters tended to elect their congressmen based on national issues rather than personalities or who could best “bring home the bacon.”
Once again, we Americans find ourselves at a crossroads with midterm elections fast approaching in November. Once again, we have a Democratic administration that has embarked during a severe recession on a massive spending program, purportedly designed to invigorate the nation’s economy. This time, however, I believe that most Americans are genuinely concerned that the huge sums that the government has obligated for its “stimulus package”, together with the projected costs of Obama’s health care plan and other initiatives, will not only result in significantly higher taxes, but will bring us close to a European-style welfare state of dependency – where Americans will receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes. In such an economy, double-digit unemployment is the accepted norm, rather than an aberration during hard times.
Many Republicans wonder when some new dynamic Republican leader will emerge with new ideas to address America’s domestic problems. Are Republicans capable of seizing upon the somber and unsettled mood of the electorate and make substantial gains in the November congressional elections? Can Republicans substantially reduce the supermajority which the Democrats presently enjoy in the House and Senate? Can they check the efforts of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who, emboldened by their supermajority, are attempting to move the country, once and for all, past the “tipping point” and create a collective and regulated society from which there is no turning back?
There is at least one such Republican in congress who appears to have a clear vision of what is necessary to solve America’s domestic ills. He is Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee, who has recently introduced in congress his plan – called “A Road Map for America’s Future” – which addresses the nation’s fiscal crisis, as well as tax reform, Medicare, health care, and Social Security issues. Ryan suggests that we have only two simplified income tax rates: (1) 10% for single filers making $50,000 of taxable income or less per year and 10% for joint filers making $100,000 or less as well; (2) 25% on taxable income for single filers making over $50,000 and the same amount for joint filers with a taxable income over $100,000. With the exception of a health care credit and a generous standard deduction and personal exemption not to exceed $39,000 for a family of four, there would be no further tax credits, exclusions or loopholes. Finally, Ryan offers an 8.5% “business consumption tax” to replace our present corporate income tax, so that America’s companies can compete more effectively internationally.
Ryan’s “Road Map” also calls for similar reforms for the nation’s Medicare system, the present health care system, and for Social Security. His goal is to preserve the solvency of Medicare and Social Security and to bring affordable health care to all Americans, without bankrupting the country. In my view, Ryan’s plan has the makings for real solutions to real problems facing Americans, and you may want to contact Congressman Ryan for more information about his “Road Map for America’s Future.”
My advice to Congressional Republicans: do not expect to win back the House and Senate in November, 2010, by employing a defensive, “rope-a-dope” boxing strategy designed to wait for the Democrats to make mistakes and further antagonize the voters. If you want to win and really do something for America, adopt a domestic plan such as Ryan’s plan, and tweak it; poll it; publicize it; and then drive it home to the American people. You will distinguish yourselves from the Democrats; show the voters that you really care and that you are trying to solve their problems. In the process, you will nationalize the November elections – and you will win big.
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