The country has spoken. More accurately, the country has shouted: we’ve had enough! Enough of the wasteful spending, enough over-regulation, enough cynical vote trading, enough of the bills that “spread the wealth” and undermine the foundations of our country’s success.
This week, Americans elected candidates promising to upend the dysfunction of our government. Of course, we’ve heard this before: from an insincere President Obama who pledged to “change the way Washington works,” and then cynically hired Rahm Emanuel – the ultimate Washington apparatchik -- to be his chief of staff. That’s the same politician who has just been thrashed for not carrying through on this promise.
Newbies just elected had better pay heed. The country is fed up and wants action.
Our nation faces grave challenges, and also certainly some shared sacrifice. To move forward will require consensus and restored trust in our institutions. What can the new Congress do to win the confidence of Americans? Here are 6 suggestions:
1. Introduce Term Limits
No institution ranks lower in the public’s esteem than Congress, and nothing could better begin to rebuild trust than having our elected officials deny themselves lifetime employment. Polls show that 78% of Americans favor term limits. Moreover, support for terms limits is bipartisan, with 84% of Republicans, and 74% of both Democrats and independents approving the notion.
Many candidates ran in this cycle promising to serve a limited number of terms – and such pledges were warmly received. There is no doubt: time in office is highly correlated with corruption. This is a measure that could damp the self-serving practices of Congress and show voters that all those lofty speeches actually meant something.
2. Introduce a Bill to Rescind Obamacare
The country doesn’t want the gigantic and muddled health care bill and every new piece of evidence makes it look even more financially disastrous. The head of the CBO recently gave a speech in which he projected that health care in 2025 would account for 25% of the nation’s spending.
Remember how we were worried that such outlays amounted to 15% of GDP? This program is a catastrophe, which will provide health services to the currently uninsured at the expense of those who already have insurance. As it stands, the law is a full-employment guarantee for millions of unionized health care workers.
We need to start over. President Obama won’t sign such a bill, but it could set the debate for 2012.
3. Cancel the absurd provision of Obamacare that requires the filing of a 1099 form with the IRS for every transaction over $600.
Even officials in the IRS have repudiated this mandate -- the agency is not equipped to deal with the expected torrent of paperwork. This is an easy one.
4. Rein in the EPA
This will not resound throughout the country quite so loudly, but it will reassure business owners large and small that the nerds are no longer in charge. The EPA is out of control, enacting one costly measure after another, raising the cost of doing business. Most recently, it pushed through a mandated reduction in heavy duty truck emissions – purportedly with the support of the Teamsters, who expect companies to comply by resorting to smaller trucks. Bingo- more routes and more drivers!
We cannot afford to make our industry even one penny less competitive. We do indeed need an energy policy; its creation should not, however, be offloaded to the EPA.
5. Pass the Three Large Trade Agreements That Are Still Pending with Columbia, Panama and South Korea.
President Obama has vowed to double exports and also to pass these pacts, but out of deference to his persuasive union friends has failed to do so. Every country in the world is in a bare knuckled fight for exports; it is no time for the faint of heart. We must throw our hat in the ring.
6. Create a Committee – the Efficiency Committee -- Whose Job It Is to Streamline Our Government
This group would be required to report on a quarterly basis on its progress- much like Vice President Biden has done on the stimulus spending. There are agencies and bureaus inside our massive federal government that you and I have never heard of. Many can and should be eliminated. They can also tackle updating and making sense of the 150,000 pages of rules and regulations that strangle our businesses.
These are starting points. Not everyone will agree, but pushing through some common sense changes will at least reassure Americans that they are in charge again.
I’m feeling better already – how about you?