- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2008

OP-ED:

The father of the Republican Party Abraham Lincoln once said, “Every nation has a central idea from which all its minor thoughts radiate.” America’s central idea is freedom, and this liberty is the anchor upon which all government policies should be tethered.

Today, many of our freedoms are being tested, whether it be in terms of national or economic security or even personal freedom. I am running for Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee to help re-secure and strengthen the fundamental connection between liberty and life in America.

Our Republican ship needs righting and the House Republican Policy Committee can help chart a new course. As Republicans emerge from the 2008 election, we need to reflect upon the central idea of freedom that drives America and allow it to influence our actions on a whole host of issues. Take the issue of health care. There are two prevailing prescriptions: more government or more freedom and flexibility in health care.

The idea of government-run health care sounds appealing to many Americans. Really what that means is limiting freedom - the freedom to choose a doctor, to take your health care with you when you switch jobs, to make personal medical decisions. Additionally, it presents a host of problems for the health care sector of our already lagging economy.

These facts aside, a massive campaign is under way to nationalize health care, and many believe the 2008 election provides them the mandate to do just that. One group’s ad states, “You Voted for Obama. You Voted for Health Care.” As a Republican and a physician, it is critical for us to offer a clear and credible alternative to a one-size-fits-all system that puts bureaucrats in charge of health care decision-making. Our approach should squeeze the greed out of the health care system, put the money back in the hands of patients, protect choices and options, and make the system more transparent and understandable. The Obama-Democrat-Big Labor plan just pumps more taxpayer money into the same old system without reforming it first.

This is just one example of a specific idea and why Republicans will rise or fall by offering the best solutions. The economy is another place we need to offer real solutions, not just last-minute lifelines. We can start by remembering that freedom in the marketplace, a.k.a. capitalism, is the surest path to prosperity.

Government intervention is at the root of the financial problems we face. How is it possible that more intervention will solve it? The government is now a guarantor against business failure, hastened by Democrat leaders in the U.S. Congress and Republicans at odds with core principles. And now we’re on the precipice of bailing out U.S. automakers whose bad management and bad decisions have led them to collapse.

Republicans need to offer the common-sense, freedom-based alternative. Controlling government spending, managing the federal budget, fundamental tax reform, and a comprehensive strategy to rein in entitlement spending would be a great stimulus package.

Ideas are important, but it is imperative to have the right ideas. We can’t just expect the American people to see the wisdom of our ideas. We have to engage on issues like health care and the economy in public forums, in board rooms, on college campuses, and even in churches. We also must match the other side in their intensive pursuit of media on this issue. If I am chosen to lead the House Republican Policy Committee, my colleagues and the country can hold me to meeting these expectations.

On February 12th our nation will celebrate the 200th birthday of the founder of the modern Republican Party and one of our nation’s greatest presidents. As we pay our respects to the man who led us toward a more perfect union, we must again remember his words: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is now, so we must think anew, and act anew.” Our country today finds itself in a “stormy present,” but history has put us in this place in this time and the charge is ours to keep. We must act anew and rebuild our foundation of freedom that is under assault by big-government advocates. We must engage Americans. We must offer ideas that are principled and pragmatic. And we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work on it immediately. I am ready to do just that if House Republicans choose me to lead the Republican Policy Committee today.

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