A Republican To-Do List

… Overall, their goal must be to restore public confidence in the U.S. economy… not only among consumers, but more importantly among businesses, large and small.

Consumers have lost confidence that they will be able to hang onto their jobs, so they don’t spend their money; they stash it away for a rainy day. Many businesses are sitting on their cash, as well. With Obama in the White House and the Congress run by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, they’re not hiring new workers and they’re not expanding because they lack confidence in the future outlook for taxes, healthcare costs, and government regulation.

To reverse that trend, Republican leader John Boehner has discussed his top five priorities. First and foremost, congressional Republicans must vote to extend the Bush tax cuts. To make up for the reduction in revenue and to avoid a major increase in debt, they must cut government spending by a like amount. Conservative economists have suggested a long list of potential cuts.

For example, taxpayers have recently been made aware that, on average, government employee salaries have grown to roughly twice the salary levels in the private sector and they are not happy about it. The Republican Congress should hold public hearings to determine how it happened and exactly who is to blame, and then to begin rolling back federal salaries and benefits. The era of exposing government outrages without attaching names and faces to them must be at an end.

Second, they must announce their intention to repeal Obamacare. Obama can be expected to veto a repeal bill, so Republicans must be prepared to defund any program that would support Obama’s healthcare scheme. They’ve got to be ready to play hardball with Obama and the Democrat minority.

Third, they must announce their intention to freeze government spending at current levels. A major part of that effort must be a firm commitment to end earmarking.

Fourth, they should announce a one-year moratorium on new government regulations. As part of that effort, they might wish to hold public hearings on the question of who it was that made the decision to ignore a court order to end the moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Was it the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, or was it Obama himself?

And finally, they must announce an end to multi-billion dollar bailouts and stimulus packages. Every business entity, in every sector of the economy that has not been heretofore bailed out, must be put on notice that if they don’t know how to swim they’d better learn very quickly.

But we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. Republicans have not as yet taken the necessary steps to gain public confidence in their own ability to govern.

There is no doubt that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have led their party down the path to what promises to be the biggest partisan calamity of all time… an electoral disaster that could see a Republican gain of as many as 60-75 seats in the House and a gain of 10 or 11 seats in the Senate is not outside the realm of possibility.

To do that, it will not be sufficient for Republicans to simply promise to reduce spending, cut taxes, reduce the size and scope of government, roll back excessive business regulation, and provide a degree of economic certainty for business, large and small. In other words, it won’t be sufficient to simply insist that they will be “better” and “more sensible,” than the Pelosi-Reid Congress. What the American people need to hear from Republicans is that the 112th Congress, and future Republican congresses, will be totally unlike Republican congresses of recent times… e.g. the Hastert/Delay congresses of 1999 through 2007.

The American people are a forgiving people, but they don’t like to be played for fools. What they need to hear from Republicans is a bit of penance for the Bush-Hastert-Delay era. All they need do is to open up and say that the GOP was governed during the first 8 years of the century by people who either didn’t know what Republican principles were (Bush), who didn’t care what Republican principles were (Bush, Hastert, Delay), or who once knew what those principles were but had forgotten (Hastert, Delay). Once they’ve made their peace with the American electorate they may then be permitted to govern.

What I am suggesting is that it is well past time to toss former Speaker Dennis Hastert and former House Minority Leader Tom Delay under the bus. What these men did, with the acquiescence of George W. Bush, was to make it all but impossible for Republican activists to defend their own party. Republicans have governed badly in the recent past and its time we admitted our error and started naming names.

In the Senate, Republicans will have to do far better than sending Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to represent them on the Sunday morning news shows. In a Sunday morning appearance on August 22, in response to a question about how a Republican-controlled Congress would differ from the Democratic Congress, McConnell replied, “Well, we’ll have to wait and see what the president’s commission on fiscal reform recommends.”

Good grief! Do Senate Republicans actually allow him to run around loose? If McConnell doesn’t have a catchy response to that question he shouldn’t be serving as minority leader. Tom Daschle and Harry Reid may have had only a passing acquaintance with the truth, but at least they had something interesting to say each time they found themselves on camera.

Republican leaders must also be prepared to go to war against electoral fraud, violence, and intimidation. To date, we have heard no announcement from Michael Steele and the Republican National Committee that they will pursue a no-nonsense approach to the sort of electoral hanky-panky that has characterized Democratic politics since the 1930s.

If Michael Steele doesn’t have the foresight to announce that the RNC will have a force of volunteer lawyers at the ready, prepared to prosecute voting rights violations in every state and every county in the nation, then he needs to step aside and let someone else lead the party.

And finally, as blacks see the Democratic Party decimated because of the failed leadership of Barack Obama, Republican leaders must make it clear that Obama’s policies are not being rejected because of the color of his skin, but because he is an incompetent who’s skin just happens to be black.

In a year when no fewer than thirty-two very capable black conservatives ran in Republican House and Senate primaries across the nation, with ten winning their primaries, we can expect the Congressional Black Caucus to be a very different institution beginning January 1, 2011… far different from the Black Caucus of 1994 when Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts was not welcomed into the fold with open arms.

If Republican congressional leaders understand anything at all about the dynamics of the black vote they will insure that the largest black Republican freshman class in more than a century will be widely showcased and highly visible. Not because of a sudden mass shift in black political loyalties… although that may be the case in 2012 and beyond in the wake of a challenge from Hillary Clinton and/or Howard Dean… but because Obama has lost his connection with the people on issue after issue – government spending, government debt, terrorism, immigration reform, the Middle East, the environment, the BP oil spill, the ground zero mosque, and many more.

For whatever reason, Obama appears intent upon making sure that he is not only the first black president, but the last one for many generations to come. No one, black or white, has ever damaged the hopes and aspirations of black people to the extent that Barack Obama has.

Let us all hope and pray that the Republican leaders in Congress will find the political skills and the political courage necessary to lead us through this very difficult time.

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