It's time for a new Contract with America

Donald Trump is the top GOP 2016 candidate according to some recent polls. Does that mean he should be president? No. A man who thrusts his companies into bankruptcy as casually as he poses for selfies lacks credibility. But, his popularity sends an important message: millions of Americans are dangerously fed up with our elected leaders and the way they’re running our country. They are tired of seeing the U.S. battered by rivals like China and Russia, and tired of being lied to. Some 60% of the country thinks we’re headed down the wrong track; they are right.

Many of us worry that the exuberant individualism and creativity that made this country the envy of the world is being crushed under a lava flow of regulation and stupidity.  Our politicians engage in government Mandarinism, legislating more and more about less and less, trying to guarantee equal outcomes instead of protecting equal opportunity. While our government grows steadily bigger, our big problems are not being addressed.  Maybe it’s time for a new Contract with America – not the kind that progressive New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio has been pitching the country, but one that gets the United States back on track.

In 1994, more than 300 Republicans who hoped to take control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years gathered to promise Americans a brighter future.  Voters were anxious about the growth of government, high crime rates, spiraling welfare obligations and regulations and rising taxes that were crushing small businesses.

As Representative Dick Armey said then, “Americans today are cynical…they are tired of being misled…” He chided a Congress that “cobbles together thousand-page bills behind closed doors, refuses to live by the laws it imposes on everyone else and – most damaging – has adopted as its central philosophy the belief that ordinary people can not be trusted to spend their own money and make their own decisions.”

Sound familiar?

Voters must demand real solutions from the president we elect in 2016 – not just empty promises and sound bites. Creative solutions that include streamlining our government while also spending money on real needs.

Today, the most pressing issues have changed somewhat, but the underlying mistrust in government – the sense that policies are directed towards those with the most money and the loudest voices, has never been more profound. Many Americans are losing hope that things will ever get better.

What are the problems we need to tackle today?

1. Our public education system is not working. We spend more than $13,500 per pupil in K-12 schools today, but only 36% of 12th graders in public schools scored “proficient or better” in reading, and only 25% scored at that level in math.

2. Our infrastructure is collapsing. Not just because our roads are bumpy and trains slow, but because to compete globally, we need ports that can accommodate the newest supertankers (at present only two out of our 14 major East Coast ports can take the new ships that will soon pass through an expanded Panama Canal) and airports that are not crippled by congestion.  We used to lead the world in infrastructure; now we rank sixteenth.

3.  More than 11 million Americans receive disability payments – more than the population of Portugal. There are 46 million receiving food stamps. Overall, we have nearly 110 million Americans receiving some type of means-tested assistance, or welfare. That compares with about 106 million full-time workers. 

4. We have far too many overlapping, useless programs being funded by taxpayers. There are 47 job training programs reporting to nine different agencies. Their effectiveness, the General Accounting Office reports, is unknown since in the past decade only 5 have conducted an impact study and about half have never been reviewed. This is intolerable; all federal programs should be subject to an expiration date.

5. Costly and complicated regulations are stifling this country’s creativity and entrepreneurship. During President Obama’s first term, 330 “major rules” – those having an economic impact of   $100 million or more, were finalized, and the number has only grown since then.  According to the Heritage Foundation, “The cost of the new mandates and restrictions imposed by the Obama Administration now nears $73 billion annually” – far exceeding the $22 billion annual charge imposed by Bush-era rules at the same point in his presidency. 

6. Our 75,000 page tax system is ludicrous – overly complicated and riddled with loopholes. Rather than engage in a monster brawl setting up new winners and losers, it may be time for a flat tax. Open, transparent, easy to manage.

7. ObamaCare continues unpopular. Its absurd mandates, narrower doctor choices, rising costs and disincentives to work  -- all the inevitable outcome of a one-size-fits-all top-down health system. We need a better plan, which promises access to medical care for all Americans and allows the private sector to play a larger role.

8. Government lapses in cybersecurity are frightening; it is only a matter of time before hackers wreak havoc on one of our airports or nuclear power plants. The recent OPM breach confirms our vulnerability.

9. Our military is being weakened at a time of rising threats from terrorist groups and adversaries like Russia and China. President Obama has damaged our standing in the world. We need a leader who will stand by our allies and stand down our enemies. And, who is willing to identify the difference between the two.

10. We must solve our immigration problem. Ignoring the 11 million people in the country illegally, while inviting still more to cross our borders daily, and granting automatic citizenship to those born to non-citizens will only compound our problems.

These are just some of the problems we face. Voters must demand real solutions from the president we elect in 2016 – not just empty promises and sound bites. Creative solutions that include streamlining our government while also spending money on real needs. Solutions that benefit all hardworking Americans. It’s time for a new Contract With America.