Monday, November 1, 2010

Some Thoughts for the 2011 US Congress

Newspaper headlines on Wednesday morning will scream of a nationwide Republican victory – and every one of those newspapers will be wrong. I do expect Republicans to gain close to 60 seats in the US House of Representatives and gain nine seats in the US Senate, but it will be due to Democrat incompetence. Democrats may not have put a bow on this election and handed it to the GOP, but that was all they missed.

There is a history here that must be remembered. Republicans were fired in 2006 because, quite frankly, they had acted like liberal Democrats: increased government spending, government expansion, corruption and a disregard for the good, common sense of the American people. There was a massive epidemic of Potomac Fever and the GOP was, apparently, not inoculated.

The first half of Barack Obama’s presidential term, it was the Democrats’ turn to act stupidly. In 2010, Democrats will be fired because they have acted as Democrats do when unrestrained. The amount of arrogance, disregard for the American public and poor decision-making is so massive in its scope that it dwarfs whatever few good ideas Democrats ever had. When American voters are confronted with a Democrat Congressman, they see a purveyor of class warfare; an arrogant, healthcare-destroying elitist; a politically correct, naïve buffoon regarding foreign policy; and, a complete ignoramus on economic matters who believes reality is optional. That reputation is why the GOP will be given another chance.

The GOP will win control of the US House of Representative and possibly of the US Senate on Tuesday despite their recent history, not because of it. GOP challengers who defeat Democrat incumbents or win open seats should party all night with a clear conscience while memorizing the reasons voters chose them. I also suggest a midnight visit to the local tattoo parlor to have those reasons inked onto an easily visible portion of skin. Note: If inked on forehead, please remember to reverse the letters.

On the other hand, Republican incumbents have something to prove to grassroot Republicans, independents and self-identified TEA Party supporters. Those incumbents are under a microscope and if they mistakenly believe they are dealing with the old memory-challenged, easy going American public then they have until their next – and probably last – election to correct that mistake.

At first glance, it might appear that Republicans do not have a mandate, but they do. Republicans have a very strong mandate to do a few things such as repeal Obamacare and enact a less invasive, more workable solution. They have a mandate to reduce government spending and to protect our border. The Pledge to America can be safely enacted. Republicans have one other to-do item that must be accomplished: block Obama's expansion of the government. Beyond these things, it gets a little sketchy.

With all this in mind, here are some suggestions for all of the Washington-bound officials.

1. Implement the Pledge with America as quickly as possible. If you fail or hesitate then start looking for honest employment in 2012. US Senators need to develop similar changes.
2. You are on a short leash with the American people for a good reason. Don’t resent it; simply acknowledge the fact and go about proving you are worthy to represent your constituents.
3. The taint of corruption or anything that resembles corruption will destroy Republican chances of keeping a House majority, gaining a Senate majority or winning the Presidency in 2012. That is “destroy”, not “hurt” Republican opportunities. Corruption is the most under-rated issue in terms of its effect on the voting patterns of the American people.
4. Earmarks should be banned. The first person to attempt to attach an earmark to anything should be horsewhipped in the chamber. The second person should be horsewhipped and then beheaded. Seriously, you must understand that the American people view earmarks as corruption. I think they are absolutely right.
5. Defund Obamacare. Attempt to repeal it, but understand the press will spin this as a victory for Obama if his veto stands. It also gives Democrats a chance to vote to repeal Obamacare knowing their vote means nothing but that the vote might help them in marginal districts in 2012.
6. Offer alternatives to Obamacare or pass related bills such as well-designed tort reform, portable health insurance and/or facilitating the purchase of health insurance across state lines.
7. Spending bills should contain spending and nothing else.
8. In addition, each bill should deal with only one area. If a bill is about energy policy then it should be solely about energy policy.
9. If a bill is not a matter of national security, then it should be as transparent as a Honeymoon nightie.
10. Secure our borders. A physical barrier along the US-Mexican border is one area where the American people will welcome a shovel-ready job stimulus project. If the Mexican government does not like this then they are perfectly welcome to build their own fence with their own labor.
11. Enforce laws punishing companies who knowingly hire illegal aliens.
12. What is Eric Holder doing in the US Department of Justice? Is he selectively enforcing laws? Has ICE been ordered to not perform its Constitutional duty? A low-key, non-dramatic investigation is needed.
13. Talk to local, especially rural, law enforcement officials and ICE officials to find better ways of coordinating deportation of illegal aliens. Then fix the problem.
14. Immediately decide what will and will not be done with regulations concerning business. Let business know immediately and unemployment will tumble and investment will grow dramatically. Be bold and announce that this will happen beforehand. The one drawback is that there may be some inflation because of cheap money.
15. Find out what happened with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Just get the facts and don’t grandstand. Insist the guilty be prosecuted.
16. If anyone will buy them, sell Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
17. You get paid a full-time salary. Work full-time. Schedule the US House to work Monday through Friday and even if you take off one week per month to go home to visit your constituents, you will still be more effective and efficient than working four days per week.
18. Auction off Nancy Pelosi’s plane. It’s a symbol of what the people hate about Washington politics and arrogance. Consider using eBay.
19. Come up with a list of federal programs that can be shut down completely. Do not be afraid to add GOP-favored federal programs to the list.
20. Re-focus and reduce – or de-fund completely – the US Department of Education and the US Department of Energy. Both are abject failures. In fact, get the federal government out of education.
21. Every dime taken from the US public that is not needed is theft. Period. We really don’t care how much good an unnecessary program will do. That money is needed to feed our families, send our kids to college and have a retirement that doesn’t feature a menu dominated by Iams, Purina and Ken-L-Ration.
22. Do anything and everything to reign in the federal courts’ twisting of the Interstate Commerce Clause to destroy the rights of individuals and states. I fear a Constitutional Amendment will be required.
23. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting should be de-funded. It will survive and actually thrive because every guilty liberal in the country will smother it in money. Just don’t complain too much if Bert and Ernie start sounding like George Soros and Michael Moore.
24. People who buy and or sell votes in a federal election should be found guilty of felony voter fraud and not have their right to vote restored for at least a dozen years from the time of their conviction. People who abuse the sacred right to vote do not deserve it.
25. Repeal any federal laws that require usage of union wage rates or “prevailing wage rates.” We’re broke and cannot afford the luxury of paying artificially high wages.
26. Write a common sense energy policy. Open up Anwar for petroleum and gas exploration and drilling. Look again at off-shore drilling regulations. Repeal current laws on nuclear power plants and oil refinery construction and replace them with thorough but pragmatic laws. Better yet, allow the federal government to provide guidance for each state to write its own laws regarding all power plant and refinery construction.
27. Make measureable and easily understandable goals to reduce federal regulation of states, individuals and businesses. The number of pages of regulation may be one way to measure progress.
28. Do we still need to have sugar subsidies and tariffs? I don’t think we do.
29. Doesn’t anyone realize that sugar cane produces more ethanol per acre than corn? So why does federal money go to subsidize corn-produced ethanol instead? I don’t think Archer-Daniels-Midland has a lot to do with sugar cane, do they?
30. We have been told that agriculture subsidies are to protect family farms. So let’s end all agricultural subsidies to “C” type corporations. This means that “S” type corporations, partnerships and sole ownership farms could still receive subsidies, but companies like Dole and Archer-Daniels-Midland would have to make a profit like everyone else.
31. In exchange for reducing/eliminating subsidies we eliminate the death tax for everyone.
32. Make the Bush tax rate cuts permanent.
33. Make it clear that there is no company on the planet “too big to fail” and if they are counting on government intervention to survive then advise them to sell short.
34. We are in an economic war with China. Our debt hands them a huge strategic and military advantage. We cannot afford to fight a two theater war. Once China completes expanding its blue-water navy then it may be able to do so.
35. Regarding China, we no longer have the fastest super-computer in the world. China does; and it is much faster. This is a serious security danger because of encryption/decryption speeds and war time usage. Historical note: After seeing the potential and the fast-growing power of Carthage in person, Cato the Elder ended each of his speeches in the Roman Senate with the statement, “Carthage must be destroyed.” That is too harsh for these days, but I suggest you update and modify that thought as needed; just not in speeches. Consider this: If we continue to refuse to be fiscally responsible and have a conflict with China in 25 to 50 years, whom do you believe will win? If you had to hesitate before answering then the outcome is too uncertain. Don’t forget we have a defense pact with Taiwan and that is already a source of contention.
36. Stand by Israel.
37. Never, ever say or imply that any government creates jobs. It does not. It merely takes resources from the private sector and consumes them. Sometimes it consumes them by employing government workers. Government workers are great, but how many private sector jobs does it take to supply the tax revenue to employ a single government worker? Now you know why public sector jobs are less valuable to the economy than private sector jobs.
38. Thomas Jefferson said, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” Apply that when dealing with the Democrats and the President. Quoting Jefferson to Democrats is fun; it makes their eyeballs bulge.
39. There’s no reason not to audit the Federal Reserve System. Audit it.
40. Find an effective way to protect the intellectual property rights of Americans overseas.
41. Ask the Fed Chairman about the negative consequences of artificially low interest rates. The obvious answer is that it discourages saving by Americans. The effect on business cycles is less certain but also worth investigating.
42. Read the bills. Make sure the bill summary and the bill name is accurate so the American people understand what’s in the law.
43. Do not allow items to be added to bills during reconciliation with the Senate unless the item was in either the Senate or the House version of the bill.
44. We need to allow individuals to invest a portion of their social security funds in Exchange-Traded Funds or mutual funds. There can even be a sliding scale so that by the time a person is within five years of retirement all of the investments must be in bonds or bond-related funds. As a welcome side-effect, the stock market will climb – a lot.
45. Your first loyalty is not to Congress, to your fellow legislators or to your future election chances. Your first loyalty is to the American people. The US House is called “the People’s House” for a reason. Please don’t forget.
46. The debt clock is ticking away. Remember that every time you vote.
47. Every day the US House is in session, some Republican should go to the well of the House and give the total debt and how much higher it is than the day before.
48. Make sure your staff knows what project(s) you are working on. If people ask, don’t be afraid to share the information. Also, give great constituent services and follow up after the service is rendered. For services that take an extended time period keep constituents updated.
49. Put your interactions with people in a searchable database that can be searched by name, date, issue, result, zip code and status. Use that database to look for patterns to make changes in systems and processes to prevent future problems (Apply Six Sigma process).
50. Your staff doesn’t have to agree 100% with your political philosophy, but every staffer should know your political philosophy 100%. If you don’t have a political philosophy, please don’t even show up in Washington. Honestly.
51. Gridlock is not all bad and may be good for business.
52. Carefully prioritize your agenda. Don’t over reach, but our country has real problems that must be solved soon. Compounding interest on the national debt says time is short.

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