- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Despite the teeter-tottering polls that rise and fall with the latest news cycle, one thing is abundantly clear: The Republican nominee will have a plan - and not just a plan to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Every Republican candidate, despite his or her polling position, has released solutions to rebuild the economy; put Americans back to work; end reckless spending, debt and borrowing; and restore the American dream.

As a follow-up to his energy policy, Texas Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry announced his “Uproot and Overhaul Plan” on Nov. 15 at the Schebler Co.’s manufacturing facility in Bettendorft, Iowa.

Although lacking in details, Mr. Perry’s Overhaul Plan is best described as a Thanksgiving feast of reform.

The appetizer of Mr. Perry’s legislative reform agenda would transform Congress into a part-time legislature, coined a “Citizen Congress,” and subsequently would slash congressional staff budgets. This overhaul looks pretty on the plate but doesn’t hit the spot. Lawmakers should cut their salaries and budgets by 25 percent until the budget is balanced. They did it during the Great Depression, and they should do it during this endless recession. More important, we need to send people to Washington who are accountable to the American people, their constituents and the Constitution. Let’s not forget putting the taxpayer at the head of that equation. The person paying the bills ought to have an honored seat. We need our voice to be heard daily in Congress. We don’t have part-time citizens and should not have a part-time legislature.

Mr. Perry’s plan to reform the legislature also includes palate-pleasing efforts to criminalize insider trading by members of Congress and amend the Freedom of Information Act to include Congress and the White House. I couldn’t agree more. Congress should be subject to the laws it creates. From health care to tax reform, our elected officials cannot be exempt, excluded or immune from the laws they pass and the rules they enforce.

After reforming the legislative branch of government, Mr. Perry’s Uproot and Overhaul Plan would target the judiciary through two general action items: stopping the nomination of activist judges and ending lifetime appointments. The first rightly appeals to the conservative base that abhors judges who legislate from the bench. The second is a bit baffling. A president’s greatest legacy is judicial appointments. It’s constitutional, it’s consistent, but the process needs to be streamlined. Like the cranberry concoction or seasonal vegetables that often find their way to the Thanksgiving table, Mr. Perry’s judiciary plan looks good sandwiched between the hash-brown casserole and sweet potatoes but is not essential to the feast.

Mr. Perry’s reformation of the executive branch is certainly the proverbial turkey and stuffing of the Uproot and Overhaul Plan, and it is worth the wait. As president, Mr. Perry would send a team of auditors to review every regulation passed since the Obama administration took office. After that arduous task, the auditors will set their sights on all federal agencies to root out billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. Many have talked about waste, fraud and abuse; almost no one has actually attacked them.

As we now know, Mr. Perry wants the departments of Commerce, Education and Energy eliminated; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac privatized; and Homeland Security reformed.

Mr. Perry wraps up his plan with a Budget Balanced Amendment, the elimination of earmarks and bailouts, a spending cap of 18 percent of gross domestic product, a reduction of nondefense discretionary spending, a pledge of no new unfunded mandates, and legislation that requires a two-thirds majority on all tax increases. Still hungry? Didn’t think so.

While the entirety of Mr. Perry’s cornucopia of reform does not appeal to my taste buds, the general aim to satisfy the stomachs of the American people by overhauling “business as usual” in Washington is sweet like fresh peach cobbler. It is not more of the same. No matter whose reform agenda eventually is implemented, we can give thanks this season that the Republican Party will have a nominee with a plan for moving America forward and ensuring prosperity for many generations to come.

Martha Zoller is a political analyst and conservative talk-show host for WXKT-FM 103.7 in Gainesville, Ga. She is author of “Indivisible: Uniting Values for a Divided America” (Stroud & Hall, 2005). She also is a Republican candidate for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District.

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