Saturday, October 30, 2010

Preparing to Govern

The Tea Party has already shaped the political agenda of the next Congress and achieved impressive victories. Some quotes from this weekend's The Economist:

Whether they have worked hard enough they will not know until votes are counted after next week’s mid-terms, but in one way their labours have already borne fruit. In primaries all over the country they have secured the election of Republican candidates who are “true” conservatives, not the big-spending counterfeit Republicans whom they blame for leading the party astray under George Bush.

The article goes on to compare the American Tea Party protests to those in France, and quite favorably to our side, I might add. But the article ends up asking some challenging questions that we need to be ready to answer.

Not French, not fabricated and not as flaky as their detractors aver: these are the positives. Another one: in how many other countries would a powerful populist movement demand less of government, rather than endlessly and expensively more? Much of what is exceptional about America is its ideology of small government, free enterprise and self reliance. If that is what the tea-party movement is for, more power to its elbow.

Can they be serious?

Ideology is one thing. But if the tea-partiers do well next week, especially if the Republicans capture the House, they need to move past ideology into the realm of practical policy. This means having something serious to say about how actually to bring spending under control.
The early agenda will be easy, as I have previously discussed. Ending stimulus, returning unused porkulus to the treasury and repealing Obamacare are the easy pieces of the work ahead. But this will only bring the deficits to the levels of the last years of the Bush administration, when Democrats controlled the Congress. What else is to be done?

I have some suggestions that I hope to roll out in subsequent posts. A quick synopsis of a couple ideas follow:
  1. Tie the doctor fix to repealing a portion of Obamacare. If the Democrats want to renege on the budget estimates they used to pass Obamacare, they should have to pay the price for defunding the exact portion of Obamacare needed to fund doctors to appropriate compensation levels under Medicare.
  2. Save social security. This doesn't sound very Tea Party, but I have a long term plan. We need to shrink the reliance on social security both in percentage terms as part of an individuals portfolio and by reducing the numbers who depend on it for their primary income.
  3. Defund huge and useless portions of the budget that also funnel money to left wing causes. Start with the Department of Education.
More to follow.

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