Flake, who was passed over for the post, would be the conscience of the committee, which has been devoid of a moral compass no matter which party controls the House. He sends out news releases spotlighting the "Egregious Earmark of the Week." Last week's was $1.12 million for potato research, which he characterized as "a waste of money no matter how you spell it."
In a phone call from the retreat, Flake told me his colleagues rejected an earmark moratorium after hearing pleas from some members that earmarks were the only way they can get re-elected (whatever happened to ideas?). He said Republicans called on Democrats to act first and that by doing so they missed an opportunity to stand on principle and win political points. Flake predicted, "we'll get there" on earmark restraint, but not until after more Republicans are indicted and "an anti-earmark crusader like John McCain or Mitt Romney is nominated and elected president."
What Republicans need is a dose of Barack Obama, who recently praised Ronald Reagan to the consternation of leading Democrats. Obama correctly noted that "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, and a way that Bill Clinton did not." That's because Reagan had core principles from which he rarely deviated.
Instead of standing in front of those silly signs they use to promote whatever it is they are talking about, Republicans should use backdrops that promote some of Reagan's greatest sayings. These include:
"Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States"; "Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets"; "Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them"; "Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves"; "Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
My personal favorite is: "Man is not free unless government is limited."
That last one should be tattooed on every Republican member of Congress. Have any of these core principles been proved wrong, outdated or unworkable? Did not these ideas promote economic growth and Republican electoral prosperity?
They did, so why aren't Republicans advancing them again, instead of retreating and trying to buy votes with "stimulus" packages and pork barrel projects?
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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