- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 31, 2008

A group of Senate Republicans today announced a 2008 agenda designed to affirm the party’s conservative principles, including goals to cut taxes, balance the federal budget and invest in national security.

“The American people are looking for common sense solutions to today’s problems, and conservatives have long been the source of these ideas,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Steering Committee that set the agenda. “Advocating a strong military helped bring the end of the Cold War, consistent tax relief allowed our economy to grow for decades, and welfare reform gave millions new hope and independence.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, declined to comment on the conservative because it was not set by the chamber’s Republican leadership.

The agenda —dubbed the “2008 Senate Conservative Agenda to Secure America’s Future” — comprises 10 points:

• Reform the tax code and make permanent President Bush’s tax cuts that otherwise expire in 2010;

• Reduce government spending and stop pork-barrel earmarks;

• Expand access to affordable health insurance by addressing unfairness in tax code and allow Americans to buy coverage across state lines;

• Demand United Nations reforms by withholding U.S. dues;

• Increase U.S. competitiveness by cutting the corporate tax rates, increasing energy supplies, and providing regulatory relief for small businesses;

• Secure the U.S. borders;

• Ensure at least 4 percent of the nation’s economy is invested in national security;

• Amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget and to limit tax increases;

• Stop spending Social Security surpluses on other government programs;

• Offer states flexibility and give parents more choices under No Child Left Behind Act;

Republicans acknowledged that the odds are against passing most of the measures in the Democrat-led Congress, said DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton.

“The point is to force votes that are popular with Americans and see where the Democrats stand,” he said.

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican and steering committee member, said the agenda would be welcome by the majority of Americans who are tired of business as usual in Washington.

“This agenda isn’t merely a conservative agenda, it is a common sense agenda,” he said. “The federal government is on an unsustainable course and these policies will help ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the freedom and opportunities we take for granted.”

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