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Freedom Agenda Front and Center in the State of the Union
President Bush and Dick Armey's CSE push the same sweeping agenda.
By Web Team on January 29, 2003
While the likely war with Iraq received the most attention and headlines from the president’s State of the Union Address, history will also record that President Bush presented the most sweeping and bold domestic agenda in a generation. At the heart of his domestic plan is the agenda that CSE and our Co-Chairman Dick Armey have been working on for a long time – we call it the Freedom Agenda.
As Dick Armey recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal and explained on CNN, the Freedom Agenda includes:Tax reform based on simple, low, fair and permanent tax reductions Social Security reform based on enacting personal retirement accounts Tort Reform to end lawsuit abuse and jackpot justice Welfare reform based on extending and expanding what worked in the 1996 legislation Education Reform based on parental choice and school performance-based competition
In the State of the Union the President described his economic plan, which includes accelerating the 2001 tax cut and expanding it to eliminate the double taxation of dividends. These are good ideas for promoting long-term economic growth and moving in the direction of a fairer and simpler tax code. And, as CSE’s recent national poll demonstrates, these are ideas the American people support overwhelmingly.
While many observers expected the president to ignore the subject, he took the Social Security issue head-on. President Bush declared, “As we continue to work together to keep Social Security sound and reliable, we must offer younger workers a chance to invest in retirement accounts that they will control and they will own.” CSE members could not have said it better ourselves.
President Bush’s lawsuit abuse focus in the State of the Union centered on the medical malpractice liability crisis in America. While CSE would like to see broader movement on all lawsuit abuse, making real and lasting progress on medical malpractice is crucial to patients, businesses, and doctors. As the president stated, “No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. I urge the Congress to pass medical liability reform.”
On welfare reform CSE has long stood with those who believe and worked towards the goal of reducing government dependency. The viscious cycle of poverty and despair cannot be ended with endless checks from a faceless bureaucracy. Instead, a system based on the dignity of work and a temporary helping hand provides the best hope and the most American of solutions. President Bush has called for tougher work requirements in the new Welfare reauthorization. The danger is that Congress will backslide and undo the important reforms of 1996. But with the president's proposed work requirement, there's an opportunity for America to build on the success of welfare reform, increase the role of states and private charities, and further improve the program.
One area where the President’s agenda fell short of the Freedom Agenda is education. The crisis in public education in America cannot be fundamentally solved with more money and more rigorous testing. At best, these might make marginal improvements. Unfortunately, President Bush has too often favored a larger role for the federal government in education.
Instead, what is needed is to break-up the public school monopoly and put parents in charge of the children’s education. School choice works and new federal mandates do not. But, our side has not yet demonstrated the organized political support for this initiative. Perhaps while the public reels in disgust over the multi-million dollar corruption scandal in the Washington DC teacher’s union we can begin to build the organized support necessary.
Yet, all-in-all, the State of the Union was the boldest and most positive address in a generation for those who want less government, lower taxes and more freedom. The Freedom Agenda is front and center and now is up to us to see it passed.