January 22, 2010

January 22, 2010 | Commentary on Political Thought

2010: Conservatives Playing Defense

Looking back at 2009 tells conservatives much about what may happen in 2010. Last year started with vows of hope and change, yet ended with partisanship and secretive proceedings.

President Barack Obama kicked off his ode to socialism with a $787 billion stimulus plan that helped "save or create" jobs for federal and state bureaucrats while imposing massive job losses in the private sector. Taxpayers got stuck with the tab, and 10 percent unemployment. The year ended with secret closed-door meetings between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Obama administration on a strategy to jam an unpopular ObamaCare bill down the throats of an unimpressed American public.

President Obama has a choice. He can reach out to conservatives to find areas of common interest. Or he can dig in his heels, hunker down in the White House and continue with the left-wing policies that have proven so unpopular with the American people. Sadly, that's more likely.

Conservatives need to find a good defensive coordinator (football reference). We should deploy the filibuster, fight ideas that would chip away at capitalism and run out the clock on this session of Congress, giving American voters an opportunity to send a strong message that they're angry with the direction of this country.

Tax the Banks

President Obama kicked off 2010 with the threat of a brand new round of taxation, government spending and regulation of private enterprise. In the president's budget, the administration is expected to propose $120 billion in new taxes on Banks, even as Obama is urging Banks to loan more money to small business. This administration doesn't seem to understand capitalism and the common sense idea that if you levy $120 billion in new taxes on Banks, those Banks will have $120 billion less to lend.

This highlights the difference between conservatives and liberals. Liberal President Obama wants to tax banks. Liberal House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has scheduled a hearing to explore the notion that the federal government should have more say over employee compensation and should raise taxes on corporate bonuses. Liberal Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner decided to extend the bailout into 2010. Liberals want higher taxes and more government control over Wall Street.

conservative Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) and conservative Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) introduced legislation last year to end the TARP program. conservative Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has pushed for more openness in the federal government's use of bailout funds. Conservatives want transparency, less government control over private enterprise and no more government bail outs for bad business decisions.

A Dangerous debt Commission

When the Senate comes back into session this week, it will debate a proposal to create a commission to study and make recommendations on reducing the national debt. The bipartisan proposal, sponsored by Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) would set up a special process for Congress to consider ideas to eliminate the widening gap between federal outlays and revenues. The commission would be made up of elected members of Congress and officials of the Obama administration, which may issue an executive order to set up an alternative debt commission if the Conrad-Gregg idea doesn't pass.

Stuart Butler of The Heritage Foundation argues that one of the fatal flaws of Conrad-Gregg is that it "does not provide for a full discussion of broad options with the American people. Indeed, the commission's recommendations would be developed with little or no public input and then pushed through Congress." Furthermore, the design of this legislation would set up a procedure where, "the commission procedure virtually guarantees an immediate tax increase, combined with questionable future entitlement savings."

Butler argues the government should create a real long-term budget for the major entitlement programs. The proposed secretive process and potential higher taxes wouldn't solve all of the pending problems of the federal government, nor would these solutions address the massive outlays in entitlement programs predicted over the next few decades.

New Contract with America

Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is pushing a platform of ideas modeled on the 1994 Contract with America. An agenda to promote free enterprise, limited government, freedom, traditional values and peace through strength would be a winning message for any party or individual brave enough to govern based on timeless conservative principles.

Prayers for Haiti

Please pray for the people of Haiti, as they attempt to recover from a devastating earthquake.

Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Brian Darling Senior Fellow for Government Studies
Government Studies

First Appeared in Human Events