Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Suppporting The Ryan Roadmap Takes Courage

says Dick Armey, and he is right.  But I don't think he spells out why it takes so much political courage.  Alot of conservatives are thinking of 2010 in terms of 1994, so it might make sense to compare the Ryan Roadmap to the Contract With America.  The Contract was a collection of poll-tested rightish proposals that the House Democratic leadership was not willing to support due to some combination of opposition from Democratic political elites (welfare reform), the arrogance of power (ending congressional exemptions to federal regulations) or principle (the tax limitation and budget balancing amendment.)

What the Contract lacked was any provision that seemed to threaten the economic interests of any constituency that Republicans were courting.  About the only group that was being directly asked to give anything up were the trial lawyers (families on welfare are a complicated case.).  The Ryan Roadmap is a totally different kind of document.  It isn't designed to put together a set of popular policy ideas as a campaign document.  It is designed to try to answer the hard questions about how to get the long-term deficit to sustainable levels without crushing the economy.  That means asking for sacrifices from alot more groups than the trial lawyers.  Running on the Roadmap is nothing like running on the Contract.  It is more like running on the 1995 Medicare cuts, plus some major Social Security cuts, plus a middle-class tax increase.  Oh, and it might cost you your employer-provided health care coverage.  Running on that does take courage, but it might also be the wrong political answer in the short and medium term.

It might also be something less than the ideal policy answer.  I think that the Ryan Roadmap is best thought of not as the economic policy agenda for the center-right, but as framework for thinking about a broad range of policy problems.  Individual Republicans might want to structure the tax burden differently.  They might want to transition to a more market-oriented health care system differently.  Those might be better ideas and debate between different approaches should be encouraged rather than demanding featly to one plan as a sign of seriousness (something which Ryan himself has never demanded.)

But I'm prone to some of the same vices as Armey and I do recognize that Republicans need something more than just not-Obama.  Actually I don't think that (Republicans could probably make big gains just based on the huge flop that "recovery summer" has turned into), but I would like to see the Republicans advance arguments in favor of a set of policies that have a chance of winning majority support and are achievable in the medium term.  This would structure the forthcoming debates with Obama in a way that would force Obama to either compromise or hurt his chances for reelection.  The Ryan Plan doesn't put that choice to Obama.  It makes it easier for him to dig in and paint the Republicans as the party that will cut benefits for Granny, take away your health insurance(and your children's) and raise your taxes for the privilege. 

The best such Republican agenda I have seen was the one put together by Ramesh Ponnuru.  I would also throw in some version of Medicaid reform that introduces some kind of Swiss-style voucher option into the program. 



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The “little r” republican path back to the Constitution for the 112th Congress
By: Mike Church

Narrative- Much has been made about the “Tea Party” movement and other American’s calls to “return to the Constitution” and get “our government back” from the politicians and special interests that have stolen it. There are many thoughtful plans being promoted that should the Republican Party regain control of the House of Representatives, they should pursue. These plans offer various degrees of remodeling the federal system but do nothing to alter its inexorable course toward either an Oligarchy or acting national democratic legislature.

I offer as a counterpoint this brief list of actions that would merely begin the process of “returning to the Constitution”. The list could easily number in the hundreds of pages and resemble one of the current Congress's legislative acts in both size and scope and even that wouldn’t completely “return us to the Constitution.”

With an open mind and with an even more hopeful heart I offer this brief set of actions that would only begin the “return” process and challenge my fellow citizens to consider the magnitude of what must be done to “secure the [former] blessing of liberty to ourselves AND our posterity.

Authors Disclaimer - I make no claim to the precise naming of all agencies, Acts and or laws cited herein.

1. Freeze all federal hiring, this includes funding requests from the executive branch to hire.
2. Repeal the Budget Act of 1974 and all it’s contingent COLA “mandates” no matter the agency or program they are applicable to.
3. Freeze under threat of rescinding funding any and all new regulations currently under review or consideration
4. Have an up or down vote on a Declaration of War with Iraq and with Afghanistan. if either fails then troop withdrawals must begin immediately.
5. Pass the Private Property Restoration Act which among other things shall forbid any federal magistrate from hearing any cases to restrict use of private property.
6. Repeal the AMT permanently by statute.
7. Repeal the capital gains tax.
8. Refuse to fund the Education Department and the Department of Energy, any programs, grants projects or construction begun under these agencies must cease. The EPA’s charter must be rewritten to make it clear that it only has jurisdiction over federal and or territorial waters and land.
9. Repeal ObamaCare and all contingent legislation. Congress must then use legitimate Commerce Clause powers to “make commerce regular” and remove from the tax code all subsidies, all claims of tax credit, any and all restrictions federal law imposes on the sale or use of major medical health insurance. This must include federal recognition of PPO, HMO or other plans created to satisfy Congress.
10. Repeal the FICA and sunset the program by Jan 1, 2030. Establish a cutoff date for continued payment eligibility such as born on or before December 31, 1959.
11. Repeal the Patriot Act of 2001, 2005 and sunset the Department of Homeland Security on or before December 31, 2012.
12. Repeal all mandates, taxes and law pertaining to the SCHIP program.
13. Announce the return of U.S. Gold and Silver bullion coins as legal tender and order the treasury to begin the purchase of bullion with the intent of eliminating paper currency in favor of gold and silver coin and gold and silver coin backed notes.
14. Pass the Debt Consolidation and Repayment Act. This Act will require the sale of all lands currently “owned” by the U.S. government which do not house “needful buildings, docks, arsenals, forts and magazines”. This is not limited to “Parks” and “National forests”. All proceeds are to be solely applicable to the repayment of the U.S. Governments outstanding debts both domestic and foreign.
15. End the federal tax designations enacted and known as 501 (c), (g), 503, 527 e.g. “non-profits”.
16. Repeal the “Income tax witholding act” and enact an immediate and deduction free, flat income tax law, payable once per year by each citizen.
17. Repeal all corporate and business interest, income and profit taxation.
18. Heed the call of 38 states that shall call an convention to amend the Constitution under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

I think that any public discourse that contemplated the outcomes of such an agenda would lead to the marginalization of any party that adopted such a platform. Some of that is just strange. Why is the flat federal income tax more constitutional than a progressive tax? The federal government, at every point in its history (and including much of the period of the confederation) has owned vast quantities of land that were not being used for forts etc. I can actually see somebody like Jim Deakin supporting something like this, but it is just "real conservative" posturing.

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