The conservative movement has a simple and almost certainly successful future if it does three things:
1. Advocate first principles with courage, clarity, persistence and cheerfulness.
2. Insist on developing solutions based on those principles and insist on measuring other proposals against those principles.
3. Be prepared to oppose Republicans when they are wrong and side with Democrats when they are right, but always make the decision to support or oppose a matter of first principles and the application of those principles.
Advocating first principles with clarity was the essence of then Gov. Ronald Reagan’s 1975 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. He called for “bold colors and no pale pastels.” He believed so deeply in first principles and was so courageous in advocating them that he challenged the sitting (appointed) Republican President Gerald Ford in the primaries in 1976.
Advocating first principles is essential because the American people are very confused about what to do. We are in an economic mess at home. Some of our state governments are in worse shape than the federal government in Washington (note Sacramento, Calif., and Albany, N.Y., for example). A Republican president just presided over a disastrous mismanagement of the economy with massive increases in federal spending and even bigger increases in taxpayer liabilities.
The Bush-Obama big government, big bureaucracy, politician-empowering, high-tax, high-inflation and high-interest-rate system continues to grow and to place the country in greater and greater danger from inflation, bureaucratic control of the economy, political interference in every aspect of our lives and massive debt.
The first job of the conservative movement is simply to tell the truth about how bad these Bush-Obama proposals are. The 2008 $180 billion stimulus program in the spring failed. The 2008 summer $345 billion housing bailout failed. The 2008 fall $700 billion Wall Street bailout failed. That was the first $1.2 trillion, and it was on former President George W. Bush’s watch, but all three passed with then Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s “yes” vote.
Now President Obama represents continuity rather than change. The new spending bill (as the president called it in his Williamsburg speech last week) is more of the Bush-Obama continuity and represents more of the same instead of “change you can believe in.”
This is debt you can count on and spending you will have no control over. This week, phase five of the Bush-Obama program is being unveiled by tax-evading Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner as he proposes the taxpayer bear another $2 to $4 trillion of potential debt (most of it hidden at the Federal Reserve and never voted on by the Congress).
Simply telling the truth about the big spending has already eroded its support from the American people dramatically. Americans have favored smaller government and lower taxes for two generations. Last week’s CBS News poll indicates they still think business tax cuts will increase jobs much better than more government spending.
While telling the truth, we also have to bear the burden of providing solutions and not merely criticism.
The House Republican tax-cut plan would create twice as many new jobs at half the cost of the liberal big-spending bill. George Will’s proposal to cut the FICA tax in half for a year would produce much faster stimulation to the economy than a government spending program. Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s proposal to eliminate the capital-gains tax would bring much more money into creating jobs than everything the government will try to do through politicians and bureaucrats.
Conservatives need even more bold and comprehensive solutions.