Democrats are celebrating their new majority status in Congress with lots of speeches about bipartisan cooperation and a less-than-inspiring agenda for their first 100 legislative hours. Time will tell if they keep their word on working with Republicans, but the voters want leadership on the big issues, not platitudes about comity and meaningless political victories.
Under the leadership of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, House Republicans in 1994 made progress on significant issues through the Contract with America. But under the last six years of Republican control, even with a Republican president, we have seen a leadership void in both the House and Senate. This lack of leadership is one reason voters were persuaded to put the Democrats back in control.
History has taught us that real leadership must ultimately come from the president and an engaged public. Congress was not designed to lead, and its members, too often concerned solely with the next election, are afraid to lead.
Enough voters were so disgusted with the Republican leadership void that even Democrats looked appealing in contrast. This, despite the Democrats’ dismal record over 40 years in failing to fix the problems they caused. Out-of-control Social Security and Medicare costs, an insane tax code and rampant illegal immigration top the list. The costs associated with the escalating war on Islamic terrorism will only compound the crisis in the entitlement and tax code structures.
Most congressional Democrats are in denial that our economic infrastructure needs major renovations. The known problems will not go away, and they will not fix themselves. President Bush made a valiant effort to restructure Social Security with a proven solution, but weak-kneed Republican leaders did not follow. As a result, the Democrats’ denial and scare tactics torpedoed the president’s leadership.
Does all the bipartisan rhetoric mean Democrats might now embrace Bush’s personal retirement accounts proposal for Social Security or a continuation of the modest tax rate cuts that have produced our historic economic successes? Will the Democrats allow more free market solutions to improve Medicare and our health care system, or work with Bush to achieve victory over Islamic terrorists? I don’t think so.
Instead, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the old warhorses of the extreme liberal left plan to push a seven-point policy agenda that turns back the clock from our 21st Century economic expansion to the grand old days of the Depression and New Deal socialism.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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