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Author Topic: The Way Forward for the American Creed  (Read 89777 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #700 on: September 26, 2014, 09:50:01 PM »

Reflections on the Contract with America – 20 Years Later
Originally published at CNN.com.

On Wednesday I had the privilege of meeting with S. Ganbaatar, a member of the Mongolian Parliament.

When he entered the room, Ganbaatar walked up excitedly to examine a framed document that has hung for years in my offices. The document is a list of commitments to the people, signed by dozens of candidates for public office who promised to vote on a specific policy agenda if they were elected to office. It's framed alongside a picture of the candidates who signed and campaigned on it. Many of them went on to be elected in a historic vote that tossed out a party that had held power since the 1920s.
 
Ganbaatar was looking at a framed copy of the 1996 "Contract with the Mongolian Voter." That contract was, as the Washington Post reported the next year, "the most widely distributed document in Mongolian history." The Mongolian voters -- with a 91% turnout -- elected the democratic opposition, which four years earlier had held just six seats. With a program of "private property rights, a free press and the encouragement of foreign investment," they defeated the Communist Party that had ruled since 1921.

Ganbaatar, who was elected to Parliament as an Independent in 2012 and is already one of his country's most popular politicians, recounted emotionally how the Contract with the Voter was a watershed event in modern Mongolian history. The ideas in that document, he told me, "gave us our freedom."

Mongolia's peaceful, democratic transition of power from the communists to a republican government was one of the few hopeful stories to come out of the former Soviet states in the early years after the Cold War.
 
It was fitting, but only a coincidence, that Ganbaatar visited just a few days before the 20th anniversary of the Contract with America, the inspiration for Mongolia's Contract with the Voters.

On September 27, 1994, more than 350 candidates for Congress gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to sign a pledge to the American people, a promise to vote on 10 key reforms if we won a majority in the House of Representatives. That campaign, which I helped organize, earned Republicans control of the House for the first time in 40 years.

The Contract was a campaign document. It laid out a common-sense program that was designed to earn the support of the broadest possible range of Americans. Its assortment of policies included everything from changes to how the House did business to items on the budget, welfare and tax policy.

But more than any particular proposal, the important thing about the document was its form: It was a contract, a real commitment to reform and accountability and renewal. It sought above all to "restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives."

We knew Americans deserved a clear and unambiguous account of what we planned to do, and believed reform required their explicit support -- and that if we broke faith with them, we wouldn't deserve to hold power. So we invited people to vote us out again if we didn't follow through.

But we did follow through -- in an extraordinary first hundred days that kicked off one of the most productive Congresses in American history. In addition to being a campaign document, the Contract was a management document that told us how we would govern. It led directly or indirectly to all of the achievements that would soon follow, including four straight balanced budgets, welfare reform, and the largest capital gains tax cut in American history.

In retrospect, it's clear that the Contract also marked an enduring political realignment. When the Republican House majority was sworn in in 1995, there was only one Republican in the House (Bill Emerson from Missouri) who had ever served under a majority -- and he had done so as a page. Two years later, we became the first Republican majority that had been reelected since 1928. And since the Contract, Republicans have held the House for 16 of the past 20 years, and should continue to hold it for the foreseeable future.

As a detailed commitment to passing specific bills, the Contract was the first document of its kind in American history. It has now been replicated in other countries, like Italy and Mongolia, not because of its policy content, but because it expressed a hope in the heart of every voter -- an aspiration that, in the case of the U.S. -- didn't end with the election of 1994 and certainly did not begin there.

The Contract was, quite literally, a renewal of a pre-existing commitment, one that had not been honored. It was the commitment that elected representatives of the people remain accountable to the people.

This social contract is essential to self-government, but too often, our leaders abandon it once they join the political class. They forget about who put them there, they contrive to shield themselves from "tough votes," and they stretch further the restraints on their powers under the law.

There's nothing like a visit by a legislator from a place where, for the better part of the last century, lawlessness reigned, to remind you that the contract between the people and their representatives must be constantly renewed and ardently defended.

Your Friend,
Newt
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #701 on: October 01, 2014, 04:38:24 PM »



Free People, Free Markets
The lessons from 125 years show how to revive American prosperity.
Updated July 7, 2014 9:32 p.m. ET

Surveying a century and a quarter of journalism is a bracing exercise—at intervals depressing and inspiring. Depressing because bad ideas never die. But inspiring because a free society can rescue itself from periods of decline and despond not unlike the current moment. This is one lesson of 125 years of Journal editorials that promote free people and free markets.

It won't surprise our long-time readers that the debates over principle have changed little over the decades even as events have. We opposed high tariffs when they were the patent medicine of the Republican Party in the 1920s as much as when they are now the resort of labor Democrats. We endorsed cuts in marginal tax rates when Andrew Mellon and Calvin Coolidge proposed them in the 1920s, when Walter Heller and JFK did the same in the 1960s, and when Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan did it again in the 1980s. Each tax cut was followed by renewed growth.
Related Video

A look back at the role of Opinion over the past 125 years and the lasting effects the editorials have had on The Wall Street Journal and the world.

There have been mistakes along the way, notably the endorsement of Hoover, whose austerity program turned recession into Depression. We would also not repeat the too-easy counsel of retreat from Vietnam we offered in 1968. The lesson we draw from that conflict and those in Iraq and Afghanistan is not to start wars you don't intend to fight vigorously enough to win.

Another lesson is how the political pendulum swings between freedom and equality, those competing poles of Western political thought. These columns emphasize liberty, but on occasion those who prize equality can provide a necessary corrective. The best example is the civil-rights movement, which used federal power to break the government-enforced tyranny of Jim Crow.

Yet those who promote freedom typically do better by equality than the progressives who elevate equality do by freedom. The progressive project invariably descends into subsidy and mandate to coerce men and women who resist the commands of those in power. See ObamaCare.
***

And what of the current moment? Seen through 125 years of setbacks but generally forward progress, it looks all too familiar. The bubble and bust of the last decade gave progressives a renewed chance to govern, this time with a rare supermajority. President Obama and Nancy Pelosi turned to the old nostrums that government spending can conjure growth, that regulation can productively steer investment, and that equality should be the main goal of economic policy.

The results have been predictable: An historically slow recovery now going on five years, declines in real household income except for the rich, the slowest pace of startups in decades, and a barnacled leviathan state that botches a website in the era of Amazon and lies about its waiting lists for veterans.

Perhaps worst of all has been the impact of these failures on American comity and confidence. Gridlock is built into the American Constitution, but the current rancor and paralysis reflect a deeper anxiety about U.S. governance. The public has begun to believe that the country's best days are past and the future belongs to others—perhaps China.

This pessimism contributes to a zero-sum politics that on the right becomes a hostility to immigrants, and on the left a disparaging of the successful. Both impulses lead to policies—income redistribution, rejection of human talent—that compound economic decline. And decline in turn leads to an inward-looking mood that pretends that if America ignores the world's disorders they will somehow leave America alone.

One particular challenge today that wasn't evident a half century ago is the entitlement burden—fiscal in its demand for ever-higher taxes, but also psychological in sapping the incentive to work and succeed. The Reagan restoration saved us from Europe's welfare fate for a time but Mr. Obama's progressive reversal has revived the danger of an entitlement state that is too big to afford but also too big to reform.

Yet for all our current ill temper, the lesson of 125 years is that the national direction can turn, and quickly. Experts said the aftermath of World Wars I and II would be depression, but government shrank and America boomed. In the 1970s the successive failures of Vietnam, Watergate, the energy crisis and inflation led many American elites to wonder if democracy was capable of defeating Communism. A decade later, amid the Reagan boom that added a Germany to U.S. GDP, those anxieties had washed away and the Soviet empire had disintegrated.

The answer to our current slow growth and self-doubt isn't a set of magical "new ideas" or some unknown orator from the provinces. The answer is to rediscover the eternal truths that have helped America escape malaise and turmoil in the past.

These lessons include that markets—the mind of free millions—allocate scarce resources more efficiently and fairly than do committees in Congress; that the collusion of government with either big business or big labor stifles competition and leads to political cynicism; that government will be respected more when it does a few things well rather than too many poorly; and that innovation and human progress spring not from bureaucratic elites but from the genius of individuals.

Above all, the lesson of 125 years is that whatever our periodic blunders Americans have always used the blessings of liberty to restore prosperity and national confidence. A free people have their fate in their own hands.
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ccp
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« Reply #702 on: October 01, 2014, 06:21:10 PM »

"This pessimism contributes to a zero-sum politics that on the right becomes a hostility to immigrants, and on the left a disparaging of the successful. Both impulses lead to policies—income redistribution, rejection of human talent—that compound economic decline."

Typical of the WSJ.

The rest is ok.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #703 on: October 01, 2014, 09:08:15 PM »

That it can be, and is, often used disingenuously does not mean that it is without merit.  Wisely selected immigrants can bring much benefit to America.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #704 on: October 01, 2014, 11:41:40 PM »

"Wisely selected immigrants"

Yes.  Welcoming invited guests is a very different concept than just leaving the door open.
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ccp
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« Reply #705 on: October 02, 2014, 11:19:04 AM »

"That it can be, and is, often used disingenuously does not mean that it is without merit"

Well wait a second Crafty.  I never posted or said let's keep the Werner Von Braun(s) out of the country.

But when we have people coming in and setting up shop from all around the world we have a huge problem.  Most of us a paying for this.   As many of half the children born in local hospitals are to illegals.  Who gets the bill?   And family members who are here with Medicare yet they cannot speak one word of English and some live in their native countries.  How are the getting around the system and getting us to pay their health care costs?   Just a tip of the iceberg.

 And yes most will vote Democrat and yes the one's in the Southwest have already altered the political landscape.  

And the ones in the NE and South have bolstered the Democrat Party.

Lets not down play this.  I get it about winning their "hearts and minds" but....
« Last Edit: October 02, 2014, 11:49:32 AM by ccp » Logged
DougMacG
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« Reply #706 on: November 11, 2014, 09:14:01 PM »

It's time for a 'way forward' discussion.  We need to a) stop or slow down the Obama era growth of government, b) govern in a way that keeps control of congress in the next election cycle, c) make proposals that are realistic and possible to pass now, and d) set the table to win back the Presidency.  

Bipartisan policies imploded at the end of the Bush years.   Wrongheaded policies like government-based mortgage finance were supported by Democrats and many elected Republicans known as RINOs.  The Obama years in contrast involved mostly a straight partisan divide, like Obamacare on one side and trying to repeal it on the other.  This election saw the first split in the Democrats, with 'red state Democrats' trying to running away from the President's agenda for their own survival.  

Now we have divided government in a divided nation and need to build gently on this to win going forward.  Many Dem voters lost faith in their party and policies, but have not yet jumped fully to the other side.  

Some conservatives are now pretending we hold all the cards. But we hold more like half the cards and should proceed with that in mind.   There needs to be a way forward for the right in between RINOism and purity.  We need proposals that follow, not violate, our principles, and attract support from the middle.  We need to take small steps in the right direction and make the left's accusations against us clearly false.  When they say handouts to the rich, starving the poor, taking away Granny's meds, shutting down roads and bridges or anything like that, we need to be ready to show it is not true.

Here is the beginning of a list, not in order of importance:

1)   Crack down on Cronyism.

2)  End Too Big to Fail.  Big enterprises get the protections that small enterprises receive.

3)  De-criminalize small quantities of pot at the federal level.  

4)  Take the lead legalizing safe, over-the counter birth control.  

5)   Give anti-abortion activism an anti- late term abortion focus.

6)  Drop the subject of gay marriage.  Let  the states and courts sort it out.

7)  Repeal or cut only the taxes that are really unpopular and unproductive for now.  No Democrat ran on a platform of supporting the medical device tax.  Most Democrats won't oppose its repeal.  No Democrat ran on having the US corporate tax rate highest in the world, driving out our best companies.  No reasonable Dem will oppose reform.  Pass what can be passed now with at least some bi-partisan support and put it on President Obama's desk.

8.)  Replace and re-name Obamacare.  Take a version of what Dick Morris called the Republican plan, get some support from the other side and re-name it.   Provide tax credit subsidies for all who need them to buy health insurance and incorporate the basic consumer protections.  Insurers cannot discriminate based on pre-existing conditions nor can they either terminate coverage or raise rates when their customers become ill.  Eliminate the coercive aspects of ObamaCare.  Nobody has to buy insurance nor does any employer have to offer it.  Those who do purchase insurance can get as much or as little coverage as they want.  One size will no longer attempt to fit all.  Extend Medicare coverage to those who are sickest with the highest medical bills, so the government pays for all their costs.

9)  Pass real immigration reform.  Enforce our borders, really, enhance security overall, and offer a tough set of criteria for staying here legally if you are already fully established here and contributing positively to the well-being of the country.  Make the main parts inseparable; people here stay legally only if the inflow stops.

10)  Restrain and prioritize spending but have every statement about restraint start with the affirmation that we are committed to retaining a safety net for the truly needy.

11)  Pass laws that require adherence to constitutional law, such as a law requiring Presidents to go to congress in order to launch military interventions of the type he launched in Libya.  Limit the UN and other international encroachments on national and individual liberty.   Reaffirm specific states' rights and responsibilities in federal law.

12) End the federal 21 drinking age.  They vote.  They drive.  They serve.  Leave it to the states.

13) Keep the internet private, tax free, and retain US sovereignty over it.

14)  Last (for now) but not least, reform the dual mission of The Fed.

Comments?
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 02:00:42 AM by DougMacG » Logged
G M
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« Reply #707 on: November 12, 2014, 08:41:26 PM »

The pubs are on double secret probation with the public. Don't fcuk it up!
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #708 on: November 12, 2014, 09:16:38 PM »

Good idea and good start to the conversation Doug.

Here's some thoughts from Newt:

A Suicidal Presidency?
Originally published at CNN.com.

President Obama seems determined to launch a two-front war with the new Republican Congress. The bigger news has been about his threatened executive order on immigration. The White House, however, has also indicated a determination to greet the new Senate majority leader from coal country with a series of very expensive environmental regulations necessitated by the climate agreement he announced with China.
 
Before he takes these steps, President Obama should take a few days off and read a couple of books about President Woodrow Wilson's last two years in office.
There are a lot of parallels between the two presidents. Both were college professors. Both liked to hide on a golf course (Wilson holds the record having played more than 1,000 rounds as President). Both were powerful orators. Both had deeply held convictions. Both disliked the Congress.
The collapse of the Wilson presidency after the 1918 midterm defeat is a cautionary tale for President Obama. Republicans gained 25 seats in the House and five seats in the Senate, enabling them to control the Senate by a narrow 49-47 margin.
Wilson did not seem to realize how powerful that Senate control was, even if by a close margin. He also did not realize how deeply senators feel about their prerogatives and constitutional authority.
Wilson's reaction to the new Republican Senate was to defy it. He went off to the peace conference of Versailles which ended World War I with no Republican senators in the delegation. He wrote the League of Nations treaty (the forerunner to the United Nations) refusing to compromise with Republicans in the Senate.
When the Republicans insisted on adding some limitations to the treaty, Wilson fought them. He went to the country and launched a nationwide speaking tour. The tension and exhaustion led him to collapse with a stroke on October 2, 1919. The incapacitated president was protected by his wife, who in effect ran the administration until he left office.
The American people repudiated Wilson by an enormous margin in the 1920 elections. Republican Warren Harding won 404 electoral votes and more than 60% of the vote. In the House, Republicans gained 62 seats for a 302-131 majority. In the Senate, Republicans gained 10 seats for a 59-37 majority.
President Wilson had presided over the destruction of the Democratic Party -- and it did not become competitive again until the Great Depression a decade later.
President Obama seems determined to reject the American people. He set the terms for this election on October 2 at Northwestern University when he declared that his "policies were on the ballot." The American people took him at his word and defeated Democrats at every level.
When the President's party loses the Senate, additional seats in the House, a number of governorships, and almost 300 state legislators, the American people have spoken.
Republicans today have more state legislators than any time in the party's history. Republicans also control more state legislative bodies than any time in their history. Republicans have very likely tied and may surpass their post World War II high-point in membership in the U.S. House, making Speaker Boehner the most successful Republican Speaker in electoral terms since Longworth in the 1920s.
If the president's opponent reaches those kind of high-water marks after a 160-year history, something big is happening.
Pollster Kellyanne Conway reports that 74% of last week's voters wanted President Obama to work with Congress rather than unilaterally issue an executive order on immigration. Gallup reports that 53% of the American people want the new GOP Congress to set priorities while only 36% favor President Obama setting the priorities. This is a striking decline for the President from 2012 (Obama is down 10 percentage points and Republicans are up 11 points in two years).
If President Obama defies the will of the American people, he will destroy the Democrats' chances in 2016. Democrats in 2014 had to hide from Obama. By 2016, at this rate, they will have to repudiate him. That would all but guarantee their party's defeat, with a party descending into internal strife and the pro-Obama hard-liners fighting with anti-Obama Democrats who just want to survive. Hillary Clinton would find it a nearly impossible environment for a campaign.
There are more immediate consequences to an Obama war on Congress. The Congress will fight back, and the Congress has more tools to fight with than the President does (the spending power, committee hearings and oversight power, and taking votes, to name a few).
Congressional tools are so extensive and so misunderstood that they deserve their own column.
It will be interesting to see how the White House reacts to the new Congress. Outgoing majority leader Harry Reid has protected the President from a lot of difficult choices by controlling the Senate so tightly.
As a result, President Obama and his team may not even fully understand the disaster they could be creating by declaring war on Congress. Reading of Wilson's catastrophic experience might temper the Obama White House. If not, the new Republican Congress will defeat it.
Your Friend,
Newt
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G M
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« Reply #709 on: November 12, 2014, 11:23:37 PM »

Obama doesn't care.
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ccp
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« Reply #710 on: November 13, 2014, 07:46:06 PM »

Newt the comparison is far from great.   Obama will make 5 million illegals suddenly legal.  The other ten million will be made legal before he leaves office.  He uses his aces in the hole one a  time.   

And I certainly pray we don't get a Warren Harding in 2016!  Wow what a triumph he was Newt!

Or for that matter Jeb Bush.  Bush One gave us Clinton.  Bush Two gave us Obama.   Folks end of the story - end of the Bush era.   That says it all.  Any Repub who must run for the nomination against Jeb simply use THIS slogan.   

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DougMacG
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« Reply #711 on: Today at 10:22:23 AM »

It is an argument I have called tax vs. charity or welfare vs. charity.  John Stossels frames it well in the this piece called Governing vs. Giving, which is really government forced redistribution vs the free will of giving and accepting responsibility with assistance.

Personally I find that since the government has taken my income, with my taxes more than 100% of take home income, and nothing left over, and they are spending the majority of that on redistribution, I really have no time or interest in charity unless and until we change that dynamic.

It is the essence of the differences between the two competing philosophies and the smoking gun of liberalism that they don't trust people to do the right thing without coercion.  Instead of helping people, we spend trillions and trillions pretending to help people.
--------------------------
Governing vs. Giving
John Stossel
http://townhall.com/columnists/johnstossel/2014/12/17/governing-vs-giving-n1932615/page/full

It's the season for giving.

That doesn't mean it's the season for government.

Government creates loyalty in the minds of citizens by pretending to be Santa Claus, doling out gifts and favors. Politicians claim they help those unfortunates who aren't helped by coldhearted capitalism.

The truth is, government gets in the way of charity, making it harder for people to help others and for the poor to help themselves. It also gets in the way of commerce, which is what really makes people better off.

When I was in college, President Lyndon Johnson declared "an all-out war on human poverty. ... For the first time in our history, it's possible to conquer poverty." I believed him. But then I watched government poverty programs fail. America spent trillions of your dollars on the poor, and the poor stayed poor.

Actually, the poverty rate did fall after the "War on Poverty" began. But it had already been falling prior to initiation of welfare. Sadly, the poverty rate stopped falling about seven years after Johnson's programs began, mostly because government handouts encouraged people to be dependent.

Simple capitalism does much more for poor people. On my show this week, Marian Tupy, editor of HumanProgress.org, speculates on why people don't appreciate that.

"Our minds evolved tens of thousands of years ago when we lived in small groups of between 50-200 people," says Tupy. "We would go out, kill game, bring it back, share it." The idea of everyone getting an equal share still makes us feel warm and cozy.

"Some of the anti-capitalist impulse goes back to that hunter-gatherer mentality and not comprehending the complexity of the market economy," says Tupy. "The complexity outpaced our ability to understand it.

But even those who don't understand markets should open their eyes and acknowledge its benefits: World-wide, wherever economic freedom is allowed, millions of people have lifted themselves out of stoop labor and miserable poverty.

Of course, not everyone can reap the benefits of markets. The sick, the mentally ill and other truly helpless people need a hand.

But why assume government must provide that help? Government doesn't do anything very well. Why not let private charity handle it?

I once assumed there was too much poverty for private charity to make much of a difference. But now I realize there is plenty of money, and private charity would do much more if government didn't discourage it.

When the welfare state took over poverty relief, it crowded out "mutual aid" societies that the poor ran for themselves.

They were like a cross between private unemployment insurance and "moose" or "elks" lodges that encouraged members to help each other out. They were better at helping the poor because their members, unlike government poverty workers, were free to make judgments about who deserved help and who didn't.

Today, there are fewer mutual aid societies because people say, "Why do it myself when we already have giant welfare bureaucracies? My taxes pay for Obamacare, food stamps, housing vouchers and so on. I'll let the professionals handle it."

But those "professionals" do a poor job.

Fortunately, charities still try to do what government cannot do. I give money to the Doe Fund, an organization that helps addicts and ex-cons discover the benefits of work. I give because I can see the results: Doe Fund participants work as caterers, exterminators and street-cleaners, and they do it with a spring in their step.

Somehow, the charity teaches these men (they only work with men) to take pride in work. That pride changes people. Unlike other ex-cons, those who are Doe graduates rarely go back to jail.

If government didn't discourage it, more charities would do even better work with the poor. Human beings don't sit around ignoring the suffering of their neighbors. But we are most likely to neglect these moral tasks when government insists it has everything covered.

Get government out of the way and just watch what we can do.
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