Tags: ruddy | stimulus | taxes | gop | obama | agenda | house

An Agenda for the Great Middle

Wednesday, 03 Nov 2010 10:26 PM

By Christopher Ruddy

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How wonderful it is when the American people speak.

They did just that on Election Day.

The result shows that Americans have not bought into President Barack Obama’s far-reaching agenda.

His $800 billion-plus stimulus plan was the largest spending bill in history. His financial reorganization program effectively gave the federal government control over every major financial institution in the country. His wipeout of GM shareholders is unprecedented, having given a huge chunk of the largest automaker to the unions who backed him for president.

And then, of course, there was the $1 trillion program for Obamacare that added 30 million new people to the insurance rolls, forcing every American to get health insurance.

The elections proved that the “great middle” moved away from such policies, benefiting America’s right. Before that, in 2006 and 2008, the great middle had rejected the GOP.

Now the House, and perhaps a right-leaning working majority in the Senate, can move forward with an agenda that is pro-free enterprise and growth.

Some may think this as déjà vu of the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich and the insurgent Republicans squared off against Bill Clinton.

House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans have learned some lessons from that period and are focused on less bark and more bite. They want to push forward a clear agenda that most Americans support.

Critics of the GOP say it always has been the party of the rich. To become the governing party for a generation, it should be fighting for this great middle, a political grouping that largely overlaps with the middle class.

Exit poll data from the 2008 election showed something very interesting. John McCain lost to Obama with those making less than $50,000 — and with those making more than $150,000! The so-called "rich" backed Obama.

Now the Republicans have some power, but they should realize that this power is contingent upon their standing for the great middle.

The Republicans should argue in favor of restoring $500 billion in Medicare cuts for seniors. What’s the justification? Taxpayers who have paid into the system all their working lives should not be shortchanged so that 30 million new people, including some illegal aliens, can get free government healthcare.

Social Security is another hot-button issue. Some have called for changing the 65 threshold age and increasing it.

The Republican Party should be for protecting Social Security. To me, it seems astounding that somebody who worked from the age of 18 to the age of 65 — more than 47 years of continuous work and paying into the Social Security system — should be told that there just isn’t enough money for them to retire on $1,164 a month and that they need to increase the retirement age.

As we fight for fairness in government spending, we also should be fighting for fiscal restraint.

Fiscal restraint means controlling the rate of growth of spending, as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan did so well the 1980s.

Across-the-board spending cuts would be disastrous right now and could lead the nation into another Great Depression. Instead, Congress should be restructuring, making the public sector smaller than private sector.

Agenda item No. 1 is controlling the power of public unions. David Horowitz, the conservative thinker, has long suggested that the Congress could greatly diminish the ability of public unions to influence elections. It is indeed a conflict of interest that employee unions with their massive power can elect candidates who give them larger and larger contracts.

Studies show that public employees make more than their private counterparts. Most civil servants are hardworking people who deserve a decent wage. But their salaries shouldn't be disproportionate to those in the private sector.

And lastly, an agenda for the great middle should focus on growth. The nation faces a staggering debt load.

Nations have dealt with such debt in several ways. The best method is to grow the economy, making the debt relatively small compared to the overall economy.

We can do that with actions such as cutting taxes and refocusing spending on things that work.


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