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Hey, Republican congressmen: I’m calling you out. Challenging you. I’m wondering how many of you have a spine. Or some guts. Let me ask you all a few questions:
• Do you believe in following the Constitution?
• Do you believe in limited government?
• Do you believe in fiscal conservatism?
I bet that if you asked each and every Republican in Congress these questions, they would answer, “Of course! I’m offended you would ask me that! Don’t you realize that I’m a true conservative?”
If that’s the case, here’s a follow-up question: Why are you settling?
Let me explain. Right now, the two most important debates in American politics revolve around health care reform and the federal budget. The outcome of these debates will determine our nation’s future. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) is fond of saying that America faces a choice of two futures: Greater freedom and prosperity, or greater debt and decline. However, I would suggest that our most likely future is stagnation.
Most Republicans in Congress are happy to attack Democratic programs, but few are willing to step forward with their own proposals. Legislators such as Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) with his “Platform to Revitalize America” budget and Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) with his “Patient OPTION Act” ObamaCare replacement bill are the exceptions, not the rule. By and large, Republicans appear content to play a spirited defense instead of an aggressive offense on policy.
This is the path to stagnation, and it has to stop. To be fair, Republicans are coalescing around a few bills, such as Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget. Unfortunately, most of the proposals that Republicans sign on to are compromise bills, in essence. The Ryan budget is full of compromises, such as the Medicare reform package that he co-authored with liberal Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). That’s why it doesn’t abolish any departments. That’s why it doesn’t balance the budget for nearly thirty years.
Better proposals are out there. Senator Paul’s budget balances in only five years. Representative Broun’s bill implements a comprehensive set of reforms that create a patient-centered health care system. So, where’s the support?
Here’s where the Republicans in Congress start to get a little nervous. They shuffle their feet, they squirm in their seats. They sweat a little. They whisper furtively, “You see, I would love to support bills like that. But, my colleagues… The political realities are, well, difficult, and complicated, you understand…”
Let’s be brave. After all, fortune favors the bold. House Republicans have spent years trying to garner even a shred of bipartisan support, and they have nothing to show for it. These simpering pleas for Democratic support are a loser’s game. The budget we give them doesn’t matter. The Paul Ryan and Rand Paul budgets will receive the same number of Democratic votes: Zero.
Americans love a bold plan. Incrementalism and overt caution are anathema to the American psyche. When we act like us, we win. When we act like them, we lose. The Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party allowed conservatives to make incredible electoral gains in 2010. Why is that? The Tea Party wanted to restore limited, constitutional government, and the American people turned out in droves to affirm their faith in that vision.
It appears that Republicans will keep the House and have a strong shot at winning a Senate majority. Moving forward, we must make grand proposals such as Rand Paul’s budget and Paul Broun’s health care bill the centerpieces of the conservative agenda. Here again the Republicans in Congress urge caution, plead for restraint, murmuring, “Even with majorities, the Democrats can still filibuster. We have to work with them, we have to craft bipartisan solutions, don't you see?”
Let them filibuster. In fact, make them filibuster. Most Americans don’t realize that Senators don’t actually filibuster anymore. They just threaten to do so, and the other party heeds their warning and either drops their proposal or manages to scrape together sixty votes to bypass it. If the left wants to stand in the way of a budget proposal that prevents national bankruptcy, or a health care reform plan that lowers costs and empowers patients, let them. Make them stand and filibuster for two years. They won’t do it, they won’t last. Either they’ll come to the table to negotiate, or they’ll let the bills pass eventually.
Budgets and health care reform are so critical, so comprehensive, that this is a war worth waging. We must emphasize principle over short-term political games. If the left can rally to ram ObamaCare down the throats of the American people, why can’t conservatives unite to roll back an overreaching federal government and to fix a broken health care system?
If you’re still hesitant, still worried that it might not be popular, you know what’s really unpopular? A sovereign debt crisis. Just ask Greece.
So, Republican congressmen. You’re Constitutionalists? Believers in limited government? Fiscal conservatives? Prove it.