Other Voices: GOP should abide by 3 simple concepts
Not in recent political history has there been a more auspicious time to make some really meaningful changes in the way the U.S. government works, but, if the fervor of the Tea Party Patriots, Libertarians, conservatives and others is not directed toward something fundamental, even perhaps radical, then what we will get is more of the same: Republicans will be elected in place of Democrats and they will continue to do all of the same things, except with less “intensity.” Republicans say they are the party of limited government, yet historically the best they have ever been able to do is limit the increases in government, to slow it down. All of the established principles of the social democratic welfare state will remain in place.
That doesn’t get it, folks.
We need an agenda that really changes how things work, and in the process provides both housecleaning and reform in a huge way. The way to accomplish this is through control of the purse – take away the money. Here is a very simple platform which the Republican Party should adopt to take advantage of the current climate in the country; it consists of only three (!) planks:
Plank 1. Abolish the income tax, the IRS, and all related institutions and replace it with a national sales tax that is not revenue neutral. Set a tax rate that covers funding for the enumerated powers (say 10 to 15 percent), which can only be increased by a super-majority. No other additional types of taxes (value-added, national property tax, etc.) would be permitted.
Plank 2. Mandate a balanced budget on a yearly basis; give the president a true line-item veto, and make him use it to effect this goal. Require that the “entitlement programs” be included in the budget to be balanced (right now, they are considered “off-budget items”).
Plank 3. Either abolish the Federal Reserve and back the currency with multiple commodities, or scale it back to an administrator whose only function is to apply a simple algorithm that automatically adjusts the money supply in very small increments based on GDP growth. (Such an algorithm already exists – it is called the Taylor Rule, after the economist who developed it.)
Note that these planks involve only matters of fiscal and economic policy – no social issues to obfuscate matters; the social conservatives would have to hope that politicians with enough sense to adopt these planks would also apply common sense to most other matters as well.
The result of Plank 1 would be the elimination of taxes as ways to manipulate our behavior, as ways to re-distribute income, and, most importantly, it moves the state farther away from the commonplace use of coercion against its own non-criminal citizens. Another result would be an ongoing “stimulus” to economic growth due in no small part to the certainty regarding costs that would accrue to everyone.
The result of Plank 2 would be a permanent reduction in the size and growth of government. Except for vested interests who are direct beneficiaries (public employees, subsidized businesses, etc.), we all could likely get along with 30 to 40 percent of what is now being spent on public goods.
The result of Plank 3 would be the elimination of the threat of bubbles which burst, which includes all the major down cycles since 1913 – the Great Depression, the 1982-84 recession, the dotcom fiasco, and the current problems. All were caused by monetary manipulation by the Federal Reserve. Don’t let anybody kid you into believing otherwise. Another result would be that the thief of inflation would be permanently reined in.
Unfortunately, Planks 1 and 2 would require carefully crafted amendments to the Constitution; this means that Congress would have to be regained at the two-thirds majority level, a difficult hurdle.
So, if Republicans are truly interested in small government, limited government, economic freedom and all that that entails, then let them adopt this simple, very secular, yet common-sense proposal. Let them insist that it be a litmus test for each candidate, let the chosen presidential candidate campaign alongside every Republican in every district on these three things alone.
This is the closest approach to something most everyone who is not a certifiable Leftist can agree upon. Since that is actually pretty close to two-thirds of us, maybe we can do this.
Robert Chrisman lives in Nevada City.
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