- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One of the falsest attacks President Obama makes about his conservative opponents is that they have proposed not “a single, solitary new idea to address the challenges of the American people.” From the “Roadmap for America’s Future,” authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, to the series of proposals featured in House Republicans’ “America Speaking Out” series, the political right is awash in creative solutions to contemporary problems.

Now comes the Heritage Foundation with a comprehensive answer to the president’s criticism. Titled “Solutions for America,” the Washington-based think tank’s compilation, released on Tuesday, offers 128 specific proposals spread among 23 policy areas. Some of the ideas are none the worse for being old ones, while others are new, creative and remarkably promising. They would take the country in the direction that the majority of Americans want to go, which is the exact opposite of the direction of Mr. Obama’s agenda.

The guiding theme of “Solutions” is that the majority of Americans quite correctly believe, “The government has too much power, wastes too much money, and cannot be trusted to pursue the right priorities; therefore, it should be smaller in size and more limited in scope.”

Toward that end, Heritage experts propose major changes in welfare-related programs and entitlements. The think tank has identified 71 federal programs as “welfare” and suggests capping their total spending increases at the rate of inflation while treating some of them as loans to be repaid rather than outright grants. That last idea is sensible and new.

Entitlement spending, meanwhile, would be subject for the first time to the congressional budgeting process rather than being allowed to grow on autopilot as it always has done.

Heritage would save $47 billion annually by gradually reducing federal worker pay. Right now, federal employees receive compensation that is 30 percent to 40 percent above that of private-sector workers with similar jobs. Discretionary spending again would be made subject to hard limits. Corporate welfare would be eliminated. The death tax and the alternative minimum tax would be abolished. All new regulations would expire at a specific sunset date unless explicitly renewed by Congress. Obamacare would be repealed and replaced with market-based solutions.

At Tuesday’s kickoff event for “Solutions,” Heritage President Ed Feulner explained the urgency of reform: “The federal government has given our grandchildren a $200,000 mortgage - with no house attached to it.” He might have added that this stands in contrast to current Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac policies that effectively give some freeloaders houses worth $200,000 with mortgages they can abandon with impunity. Heritage has a solution for that problem, too: “Abolish Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and repeal all U.S. government regulatory measures that interfere with mortgage markets.”

Abolish federal agencies that don’t work? Now that is a novel idea. And a good one.