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WILLIAMS: ‘Party of No’ can stymie bad ideas
In recent months, Democrats too often refer to the Republican Party as the “Party of No”; especially no ideas. This sobriquet became the mantra of Democrats after the Republican members of Congress said “no” to the $750 billion unfunded stimulus package. Democrats claimed that Republicans presented no alternative ideas to alleviate the current economic crisis. This is incorrect. The Republicans presented a number of fiscally prudent ideas, but they were rejected by congressional Democrats who continue to propose and pass fiscally improvident legislation.
Given the fiscal irresponsibility of this legislation, which adds to a record peacetime deficit, Republicans in Congress have a duty to say “no” to these bad ideas. However, if Democrats care to jettison partisanship, there are a number of good Republican ideas to help the economy.
First, a tax decrease or a direct distribution of federal money to taxpayers is a more efficient way to stimulate the economy than a hastily compiled $750 billion spending package. Less than 20 percent of the present stimulus package will be spent in 2009 when the stimulus is most needed. On the other hand, $750 billion distributed directly to 300 million Americans as $2,500 cash would result in a much greater percentage of the money being spent in 2009.
Republicans proposed tax cuts and direct payments but the Democrats said “no.” Republican should be proud to have been the “Party of No” to the Democrats’ anemic stimulus spending idea.
Second, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, 76 percent of Americans opposed and 21 percent favored the U.S. government’s bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. The cost of the federal bailout of GM and Chrysler is in excess of $50 billion. If the federal bailout of Amtrak 30 years ago is any guide, there will be inevitable future subsidies in store for the auto industry. Politicians cannot help themselves when it comes to justifying bad decisions. They are not punished by the market, and they are not spending their own money. They will inevitably throw good taxpayer money after bad to justify their improvident decisions.
If the principal purpose of the automobile bailout was to save jobs, it was an expensive way to achieve that objective. It cost approximately $300,000 to save each job paying $50,000. The government could have paid unemployed automobile workers full salary for three years and saved $25 billion! Even better, it could pay them a year’s salary and train them for productive jobs in companies with a future.
Now the federal government owns a majority share of GM and a substantial piece of Chrysler in partnership with the United Auto Workers, the promoter of excessive compensation that drove these companies into bankruptcy. Republicans, like the majority of Americans, favored sending GM and Chrysler to the bankruptcy courts for restructuring with no taxpayer subsidies.
The Democrats did not like this idea so the Obama administration pushed through an unpopular, expensive and improvident bailout. Like most Americans, Republicans were the “Party of No” to this terrible idea.
Third, medical malpractice laws exploited by ambulance-chasing tort lawyers directly and indirectly increase the cost of medical care in the U.S. by as much as 18 percent. The cost is not just medical malpractice insurance but also the cost of practicing defensive medicine.
According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 75 percent of Americans say that medical malpractice lawsuits are an important factor in the increasing cost of medical care. To alleviate this medical-cost driver, the medical profession and 44 percent of Americans want to cap medical malpractice awards. The Republican Party favors limiting medical malpractice awards. President Obama was booed at the recent AMA conference in Chicago when he told doctors that he would not help them pursue limits on pecuniary damages in medical malpractice cases. Who is the “Party of No” to saving medical costs by limiting malpractice awards?
Instead, the president and the Democrats are pushing a national health care plan financed by nonspecified and speculative savings that will be less costly than the present system.
The plan includes a government health insurance plan that will compete with private insurance companies. When does the government provide a service cheaper than the private sector? Only when the taxpayer provides subsides. With taxpayer subsidies inevitably going to the government insurance provider, it will certainly provide cheaper medical coverage than unsubsidized and regulated private companies. A fundamental principal of economics states that when the cost of a service is reduced, people demand more of it. It logically follows that Americans will demand more medical services at the lower subsidized cost. In order to keep medical costs in line when people demand more, the government must ration health care.
Further, with subsidized low-cost insurance premiums, the government provider will eventually drive private insurance companies out of the business. Ultimately, the government-run program will be the only game in town. At that point Americans’ choice on medical care will be decided by the bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, and monopolies are never low-cost providers.
Republicans are regaining their fiscally conservative bearings by saying “no” to increased spending. The media have uncritically let the Democrats take the mantle of fiscal responsibility away from the Republican Party because the last balanced federal budget was in the Clinton administration, though it is rarely noted that this didn’t happen until after the Republicans took control of Congress in the middle of Mr. Clinton’s first term. The Republicans came to power in Congress because Americans rallied around the “Contract With America,” which included fiscally conservative promises to lower taxes and balance the budget. The Republicans must stay the course and continue saying “no” to ersatz fiscally responsible Democrats who want to increase government spending.
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