- The Washington Times - Friday, October 1, 2010

By Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy
Threshold Editions, $15, 209 pages

”The Young Guns,” so christened in 2007 by the Weekly Standard, are three Republican congressmen - Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Eric Cantor of Virginia and Kevin McCarthy of California - who think their party was badly beaten in 2006 and 2008 because it had lost touch with the basic and defining principles that in 1994 shaped the Contract With America and led to the election of a Republican majority.

Their intention is to encourage candidates for national office and support sitting members who advocate a return to those principles and pledge to apply them consistently to the legislative process. The ultimate goal: With a new generation of “young guns,” recapture control of the House and, this time around, hold onto the conservative principles that made it possible. Mr. Cantor, the Republican whip, holds a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee, serves as chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare and chairs the House Economic Recovery Group. In 1994, he writes in the “Roundtable Discussion” that opens this book, after the Contract With America, there was “an incredible Congress of people from a cross section of America who really believed in ideas and principles.” But then “our leadership changed and adopted the position that we beat the Democrats’ machine, [and] now it’s time to create a Republican machine to keep us in the majority.”

The inevitable result, Mr. Cantor writes, was an unconscionable increase in spending, related corruption and a betrayal of trust. “The fact is, we had our chance, and we blew it.” At the polls, “We got what we had coming.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Cantor says, the basic principles enunciated in the contract remain intact. “I believe it is the Republican Party whose principles best capture what has made America great. It is with the conservative principles of individual liberty, economic freedom and support for families that America’s future rests. If I didn’t believe this was true, I wouldn’t call myself a Republican.”

Mr. Ryan, a sixth-term congressman, ranking member of the House Budget Committee and a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, is author of a “Road map for America’s Future,” a thoughtful analysis of the causes of our economic problems with proposals for their solution. Mr. Ryan pulls no punches, hitting on three of the political third rails that politicians typically sidestep - Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, “three giant entitlements, out of control.”

Mr. Ryan concludes a discussion of health care legislation with an analysis of the ideology that underlies it - “an ideology that says government creates rights - and government takes them away. This ideology rejects the goal of government as securing equal opportunity, it demands that government create equal results. It is an ideology that treats citizens like children and politicians like divinities. It is an ideology that need not prevail in American life. Not on our watch.”

Mr. McCarthy, a two-term congressman and House chief deputy Republican whip, named by Newsweek as one of the “most persuasive, compelling members,” is charged with recruiting a fresh crop of young guns for upcoming elections and leads a Republican effort to formulate a new national agenda.

Mr. McCarthy believes strongly in “the importance of using technology and the latest communication tools to educate, communicate and build relationships with [colleagues], the voters and potential supporters.” He is also “a strong advocate of adapting with technology to make government more effective, more transparent and more accountable.”

“The world is changing,” Mr. McCarthy writes, “and Republicans are changing with it. Eric, Paul and I are determined that the GOP be the party of innovation and new ideas in both policy and technology.”

In a Washington awash with ideologues, time-servers and political hacks, it’s good to know there are active, forceful and thoughtful young legislators, committed both intellectually and politically to providing, in Mr. Cantor’s words, “responsible, adult leadership that listens to and respects the American people.”

John R. Coyne Jr., a former White House speechwriter, is co-author of “Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement” (Wiley, 2007).

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