- The Washington Times - Monday, February 22, 2010

Families around the country forced to cut back to make it through the tough economic times are right to be upset that politicians in Washington have no interest in exercising similar fiscal discipline. This disconnect between the public and elected leaders has manifested itself in a growing Tea Party movement that should leave many holding the reins of power today wondering what they might be holding after November.

According to a CNN survey released Wednesday, 63 percent of registered voters think most members of Congress deserve to lose their jobs. Such anti-Congress sentiment rarely touches a voter’s own representative, who tends to be protected by the goodwill that comes from delivering earmarks and local goodies at general taxpayer expense. The poll holds troubling news even for those members, with 44 percent of the public saying their own congressman ought to experience the unemployment line. This figure is significantly higher than at any time since CNN’s pollsters began asking the question in 1991.

The “throw them all out” trend is quite understandable. The public is tired of hearing the same bland generalities and empty promises from its elected leaders. Two Republican congressional primary challengers think they have a solution. Phil Troyer from Indiana and Liz Lauber of Missouri are former Capitol Hill staffers inspired to run for office after their representatives voted for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout. They propose a Compact With America, not unlike the famous contract that brought the Republican Party a sweeping congressional victory in 1994.

The idea, Mr. Troyer and Mrs. Lauber told The Washington Times, is not just to stand against government, but to stand for something. Their specific legislative proposals embody fundamental principles, including:

c Passing real tax reform, such as a flat tax or fair tax.

c Requiring a vote of Congress to approve each federal agency regulation.

c Banning earmark recipients from making campaign donations.

c Prohibiting federal ownership interests in private companies.

c Requiring bills to be posted online five days in advance of a vote.

c Performing a federalism and constitutionality analysis of all bills.

c Voting for appropriations bills that reduce spending by at least 5 percent.

c Prohibiting federal funding of abortion.

c Offering a constitutional amendment for term limits.

These measures are meant to serve as yardsticks for voters. If the promised action is not pursued, by their own admission, those who sign the compact say they would deserve to be thrown out of office. This kind of accountability is precisely what is lacking in Washington. Without a clear set of principles against which the performance of elected officials can be measured, politicians - even conservatives - run amok. As legendary journalist M. Stanton Evans is fond of saying, “Too many Republicans come to Washington thinking government is a cesspool, but after a while, they decide it’s a hot tub.”

This year’s midterm elections promise a windfall of pickups for the Grand Old Party. Intraparty challenges can be counterproductive, but it’s up to Missouri and Indiana residents to decide who should represent them in Congress. Either way, the principles behind the Compact With America are right on target. Other candidates would be wise to show that they, too, are listening to what the Tea Partiers are saying.

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