Saturday, March 26, 2011

Freedom Coalition Update - 2011 UPDATE

I started this blog in November of 2008 in the hope that it would become part of a broader movement to effect a real change in the Republican Party. At the time, I viewed the election of Barack Obama as a largely preventable mistake that I laid at the doorstep of an unprincipled Republican party dedicated to pork and its own re-election. Despite my dislike of the President-elect, it occurred to me that the public had made a rational choice. Given two parties dedicated to big government, one should vote for the one that seemed less corrupt, less hypocritical about their belief and less likely to favor corporations over average folks. At the time there was no real opposition, leading me to conclude that only a Republican party truly dedicated to limited government and freedom could restore balance. I thought the effort would take years, but the emergence of the Tea Party so soon after I started blogging vastly lifted my spirits. I have a saying about the seemingly spontaneity of many people coming to the same conclusion at the same time, "Circumstances and logic prescribe a narrow set of solutions."

This post is an update, with changes highlighted in blue.

UPDATE: In the comments, John Hitchcock points out that the more insidious reason that earmarks are poison is that they buy votes that go towards ever more massive budgets. I was previously aware of this phenomena, but had forgotten. I am updating the agenda in red. I wish to thank John for his help, so check out his eminently readable Common Sense Political Thought.

In my experience, being right on the issues isn't enough, one's coalition must pick issues that are winners and that capture the public imagination.

The Republican party was founded as the party of freedom, but by 2006 they were identified as the party of big government. I therefor propose this Freedom Coalition agenda to get the party back on track. I hope the Republicans adopt a true freedom agenda, if they don't, they won't get my vote. As with any agenda, this will change with circumstances and I will update it periodically.


  • Defeat Government Take Over of Health Care. This is our signature issue today. We must defeat the current Democrat/Socialist plan, but we also have a plan of our own. We have shamelessly taken much of John Mackey's program and adopted it as our own. (Paul Ryan (R-WI) has also adopted elements of this plan.) We should further make every effort to repeal the so-called Health Care Reform act. That includes outright attempts as well as incremental efforts as well as court challenges when it is clear the act has violated constitutional principles.
  1. "Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts." Patients who have skin in the game and market knowledge will reduce costs faster than any government program.
  2. "Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits."
  3. Allow competition across state lines.
  4. "Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover."
  5. "Enact tort reform."
  6. "Make costs transparent."
  7. "Enact medicare reform." Medicare policies that are mimicked by the private sector are strangling the medical profession.
  8. Revise tax law to make it easier to donate to those without insurance.
  • Smaller Government and Reform. These issues go hand in glove. The public loathes the sight of big business getting handout in the form of bailouts, subsidies and tax code preferences. Removing earmarks, even if they are only part of the problems of bloat, will go a long way to restoring fiscal sanity. This is because earmarks are used to prime the pump of budgeting excess buying off the Congressman and blackmailing them with voting against a little local pork. They see the Congress get loads of campaign contributions and rightly conclude that the money is buying access that tilts the playing field, at best; or is buying Congressman at worst. Smaller government means less goodies to hand out. A reform agenda to end earmarks, end subsidies (even for ethanol) and simplify the tax code removes the incentives for business to try to buy the votes of the Congress. I can't find the original quote, but I remember Steve Forbes saying, "If you have a vermin problem in your kitchen, you can set traps and board up holes, but sooner or later your going to have to remove the cake from under the sink."
  • Reduce Spending to Reduce the Deficit. This is simple economics, with government sucking up all of the present and future resources of the country, it is a beast that sucks the life blood of credit, resources and talent from the businesses, large and small, that are the economic engine of this country. Unfortunately, this means that we have to tackle entitlement reform. Neither party has been serious about this. Looking at the graph below, we see that mandatory spending is about equal to all of the tax receipts of the federal government.
  • Reform State and Local Government Employee Pensions. These pensions are bankrupting governments below the federal level. The total unfunded obligation is $1.5 trillion. The right of contract enshrined in the constitution makes this a tough nut to crack, but every governor, legislator, mayor and city council member should be judged on the seriousness of their approach to this issue.
  • Reform Financial Regulation. The last recession wasn't caused by free market excess, but by too much government. Banks and insurers concluded they were too big to fail (TBTF) and called government's bluff. Many of them should have been allowed to fail. Further, as the big banks increase their market share, we demand that they carry higher percentage reserves, so that they won' fail. We call for an end to taxpayer subsidized speculation in the financial sector. We demand transparency in all things financial, including the pricing of assets. We call for an end to political interference that turned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into political vehicles to turn loans into votes. We call for an end to speculation with taxpayer insured deposits. We call on the Federal Reserve to open its books for inspection by the Congress that created it as well as the American people.
  • Champion Freedom of Speech. We oppose campaign finance reform that protects incumbents and vested interests. Ultimately, these laws abridge free speech. There are so many examples of small groups harassed by monied opponents when they seek to organize to protect their rights. In Colorado, some neighbors who didn't want to be annexed by another city held some bakes sales to raise money for signs and ended being fined thousands of dollars. See Sampson v. Coffman. We also oppose campus speech codes that are intended to silence any point of view except the prevailing leftist orthodoxy. See FIRE article. This issue is a winner because Americans have long rejected the claim that others can tell us how to think and what we can say, especially when it comes to politics. Although they aren't happy about money in politics, it is easy to demonstrate that opposition to free speech isn't the answer. More on the right answer below.
  • Oppose Eminent Domain abuse. Originally, the concept of eminent domain was meant to prevent individual property owners from holding the government hostage when building a road or other public good. Over time, this right of government morphed into the power to seize your land at the behest of the powerful for any reason, however flimsy. This view was challenged in Kelo vs. New London, but our side lost on a 5-4 decision, one of the most unjust outcomes since Dred Scott vs. Sandford. Fortunately, the appalling sight of the powerful and well connected preying on small business owners and individuals is fueling a backlash. But eminent domain abuse continues and this remains a powerful issue for our side. Here is an example of a hard fought victory n Long Branch, NJ, where officials want to replace middle class households with upper class ones. Frequently, the victims of this abuse are poor minorities. In this case a victorious homeowner was also presented an award from the NAACP. This is real outreach on issues that affect minorities that would benefit the GOP.
  • Support School Choice. We could continue this outreach by taking on the school choice issue at full tilt. I previously blogged where the Arizona school teachers union wants to take away the ability of special needs kids to get much needed educational help through a voucher program. I think the Democrats are VERY vulnerable on this issue. School choice is the real civil rights issue of our day. Bad schools are wrecking the chances of poor and predominately minority students of being successful in college. Even the liberal University of California agrees with me that minorities are educationally disadvantaged. Interestingly, even though the academic literature on the benefits of choice are somewhat mixed, it seems to be that the greatest beneficiaries of school choice seem to be the urban poor. Further, as we experiment with choice we will find the combination of programs and incentives that really work. Interestingly, opposition to school choice is one of the stated reasons for the fleebagging in Indiana.
  • Support Freedom Abroad. Newly liberated peoples the world over have shown a propensity to embrace freedom and markets when the yoke of tyranny has been lifted. The policy of America should be to actively work against dictatorship in all its forms (Islamic, Socialist, Fascist and Communist). We should seek to advance the cause of freedom, not through force of arms, but through steady pressure. Every piece of foreign policy should be weighed against this end. Further, we are also ready to use force of arms in this cause when defense of our national interest requires it. Americans resonate with the concepts of helping to liberate peoples from tyranny, this is a winner. We especially decry the pathetic kow-towing to dictatorship in our own hemisphere in the shameful treatment of Honduras by the Obama administration. Recent events prove the wisdom of this approach, I think.
  • Oppose Partial-Birth Abortions. Because the practice is as odious and repugnant as the name suggests. Americans can viscerally understand this issue. How can it be legal to kill a baby 8 months into a pregnancy when that same child if delivered, would be afforded full protection of the law? It is illogical, and even though I am a Christian and hold all human life sacred, I don't have to rest my case on theological arguments. One need only talk to an abortion survivor to understand the horror of this procedure. I blogged about the politics of this issue here.
So that's my proposal. Short, but I hope substantive. I welcome your comments, disagreements, additions and satire.



  1. Removing earmarks, even if they are only part of the problems of bloat, will go a long way to rehabilitating the image of the Republican party.

    Actually, it isn't the miniscule cost of earmarks (pork) in comparison to the rest of the budget that is the key here. It's the votes those earmarks buy. And it's the political blackmail that goes with voting against an earmark that benefits your community. Earmarks live in the margins, along with the people.

    A 10 million dollar piece of pork that would benefit a small community in your district is in a budget-busting bill. You vote for the bill and go back home to report you voted for the bill that gave the community the 10 million it needed. Or you vote against the budget-buster and your opponent reports that you voted against helping your own community.

    It's the little bits that buys off the politicians (and the voters) or bullies the politicians into voting for bad bills. The big money comes from what the tiny money buys. Priming the pump.

  2. School vouchers are the key to the future.

  3. John,
    Thanks for that reminder. Shame on me for not remembering that this was the more important issue with earmarks. I have updated the post.

    Agree that fixing education is a key problem. Vouchers will help, but the private schools still aren't fully free to experiment, due to gov't regulation.