Now that the election is over, it is time to evaluate what the American public can expect from the newly elected Congress and the administration of President-elect Barack Obama.
There are several major issues, some mentioned before in this column, which the liberal leadership may seek to enact into law. Moderate Democrats and Republicans as well as conservatives must resist them for the greater good of the country.
One straightforward issue the new administration will certainly push hard is the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Liberal radio personalities have been unable to make headway on commercial radio, so the only way for them to regain access to the airwaves is to re-impose this outdated and obsolete rule. The doctrine would require equal air time for differing political opinions broadcast over the public’s airwaves.
The result of the proposed law, if enacted, would be to silence talk radio, a much hoped for liberal aim. The medium is now dominated by conservative commentators, who, in a free market place, have proven the most viable broadcasters. The rest of the media are dominated by liberal opinion.
Businesses and workers should be alarmed by the prospect of the enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act, sometimes called, “card check,” which would, in union elections, end the secret ballot. The secret ballot is something Americans hold dear and is necessary for a healthy democracy. This would greatly strengthen the hand of labor unions, a core constituency of leftist politicians. It would also hurt the freedom of employees who oppose unions and may be subject to intimidation.
Expect an aggressive push to nationalize health care and erode private health-care coverage. Despite a poor economy and the great expense of a national health-care program, Congress probably will try to make significant inroads in this area.
And remember that once a massive federal bureaucracy is created, it is notoriously difficult to eliminate, as is obvious from the failed efforts to eliminate the unnecessary Education Department.
To pay for this new spending, the Obama administration is likely to seek to raise taxes significantly. This may include massive increases in the death tax, the capital-gains tax, income taxes and corporate taxes, among others. Such increases would cripple our economy, diminish growth, make goods and services much more expensive, and lower the standard of living for Americans.
Economically, we also will suffer if the majority tries to re-impose bans on drilling for oil and natural gas off the coasts. We are sitting on a wealth of energy resources that could help make us more energy-independent and allow us to stop sending American dollars to tyrants who hate us and oppress their own people. Were Congress and the new president to reimpose this ban. it would set us back decades in the realm of energy. The election also decreases our prospects for building nuclear power plants.
In defense and foreign relations, it is difficult to predict how the new Congress and President-elect Obama will handle the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The consequences of an unsuccessful retreat would be staggering for our national security interests at home and abroad. Authoritarians in Russia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and other countries hate us. Any sign of weakness would give them the upper hand and allow them to dictate the dialogue. It may be more important than ever for us to cooperate with governments that are pro-American or reasonably so.
We also should be vigilant about our border security and illegal immigration, particularly with violence in Mexico and along our southern border increasing as violent cartels battle for control of the illegal drug trade. And, as this column recently mentioned, we must re-evaluate the efficiency and practicality of our foreign aid. Congress may try to increase this to unprecedented levels while substantially cutting the funding for our military. We can afford neither, for a variety of economic and noneconomic reasons.
The independence and constitutional role of the federal judiciary could be in jeopardy. This is perhaps the greatest long-term risk to our nation of them all. Imagine a large number of Supreme Court justices and other federal judges who exercise a fluid, amorphous view of the Constitution, treating it as a flexible document upon which new interpretations can be imposed and in which new constitutional rights can be found.
Paul M. Weyrich is chairman and chief executive officer of the Free Congress Foundation.