The Wall Street Journal recently leveled a devastatingly accurate assessment of congressional Republicans: "House Republicans have become more passionate about retaining power than in using that power to change or limit the federal government ... a strategy (that) has maintained a narrow majority, but at the cost of doing anything substantial." The Journal was exactly right that Republican leaders "have become ever more preoccupied with process, money and incumbency," a frame of mind in which ideas are an afterthought when not actually an inconvenience.
That's why it was so encouraging when Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., threw his hat into the ring to become House majority leader. Shadegg is a man of ideas who demonstrated his willingness to put power at risk to advance those ideas as majority leader when he resigned as Policy Committee chairman, the fifth-ranking elected position in the House Republican leadership: "I personally believe it is not appropriate to try to retain one position in our elected leadership while running for another," he said. "My campaign is based on reform, and reform should begin with an open process."
What a breath of fresh air to hear Shadegg say, "We must renew our commitment to the principles that won us a majority in the first place: fiscal discipline, smaller government, lower taxes, a strong national defense, returning power to the states and greater personal freedom."
I hope Shadegg follows up and offers a platform of ideas and that his rivals for the position, fine candidates all, follow his lead and do the same. Here are some suggestions for all the candidates to consider.
First, the House should complete welfare reform by block-granting Medicaid and food stamps, just as has been done for Aid to Dependent Children.
Second, the House needs immediately to make the current 15 percent tax rates on capital gains and dividends permanent. The House also must promote a broader tax reform measure that reduces the corporate tax rate and the top marginal rate for individuals to 20 percent or at most 25 percent, the level economist John Maynard Keynes said should not be exceeded as a general rule.