The incoming Republican House of Representatives and its reformist GOP brethren in the Democrat-controlled Senate will be embroiled in 2011 with complex, major legislation. Feeding or starving Obamacare, accelerating or braking federal spending and even keeping or replacing the U.S. tax code will be among the huge questions that will get the 112th Congress working day and night.
Beyond these momentous matters, however, pro-market Republicans also should promote smaller initiatives that break with the big-government Bush-Obama years. Reaganite Republicans should invite Democrats to join them in these common-sense efforts. Democrats then can demonstrate whether or not they learned anything last Election Day.
Republicans should enact the Higher-Rate Optional Tax (HOT Tax). This tax would satisfy liberals who don’t like to have their taxes cut.
“I am in the highest tax bracket,” an unidentified woman said in a Nov. 30 MoveOn.org commercial that attacked the Obama administration-GOP tax-cut compromise. “We don’t need the money. The country does.”
No American should be forced to accept an unwanted tax cut. So, the HOT Tax would require new language on IRS tax returns: “If you believe your tax bracket is too low, please indicate the higher rate at which you prefer to be taxed. Multiply that rate by your Adjusted Gross Income. Send in that higher amount.”
The HOT Tax would spare tax-cut opponents from accepting undesired tax relief. The rest of us can enjoy the lower taxes we need to pay our bills and take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Everybody wins.
Republicans should ask congressional Democrats to support the HOT Tax. If they would deny guilty liberals the chance voluntarily to pay even higher taxes, let them vote accordingly.
Republicans should introduce a measure to require that federally funded projects and structures be christened according to the U.S. Postal Service’s rules regarding personalities on stamps. One must be dead for 10 years before gracing a stamp (save for deceased U.S. presidents, whose memorial stamps appear upon their first posthumous birthday); one likewise should be lifeless for a decade before getting one’s name slapped on a federally financed highway, bridge or warship.
Public facilities that honor living, even sitting politicians - such as South Carolina’s James E. Clyburn Golf Center and Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell Loop hiking trail - belong in North Korea, not America. This is a bipartisan embarrassment, especially when unhinged Democrats such as former Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and jailed Republicans such as former Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio have seen their names pried off of public works after they disgraced themselves.
Republicans should pass legislation to end this publicly funded edifice complex. If Democrats want to preserve today’s Pyongyang-worthy policy of taxpayer-funded megalomania, let them vote accordingly.
Republicans should re-legalize Thomas Edison’s light bulb. In one of his most shameful acts, Republican George W. Bush signed the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. Among other things, this 822-page doorstop established new lighting regulations. According to the Federal Trade Commission: “These standards, which begin in 2012, will eliminate low efficiency incandescent light bulbs from the market.”
Americans already are hoarding Edison’s light bulbs - among mankind’s greatest inventions and, alongside Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk, arguably the apotheosis of Yankee ingenuity. Washington is killing these bulbs (and bulb-manufacturing jobs) to boost those swirly compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). CFLs conserve energy. However, they brighten slowly, emit light that some find stark, confound dimmer switches and release toxic mercury when they break.
Republicans should make CFLs and Edison incandescent light bulbs equally legal. Let Americans, not Uncle Sam, decide how best to illuminate their homes and businesses. If Democrats reject this Declaration of Incandescence, let them vote accordingly.
These three modest proposals should satisfy an electorate thirsty for more individual freedom, personal choice and a government that leaves their wallets in peace. If Americans see Republicans promote such small policies and advance bigger ones as best they can while Democrats control the Senate and the White House, they will take note. Come 2012, let them vote accordingly.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with Stanford’s Hoover Institution.
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