Newt Vows to Break Welfare Empire in Contract Reprise

John Ransom
|
Posted: Nov 23, 2011 12:01 AM

One of the most disappointing things about the last three decades of American government are the opportunities that politicians have missed to set the country back on the path of prosperity and fiscal sanity.

We’ve had a lot of opportunities, but fumbled the chance in the same type of skirmishing that went on in the Super Committee, which is the same type of skirmishing we got with the debt ceiling, which is the same type…you get the idea.   

Now, in a form of poetic justice that shows that God has a sense of humor and a long memory, the GOP just may be given back that moment of opportunity in 1994 when the Contract with America propelled the House to a Republican majority for the first time in 40 years; back to a time when freshman congressmen pledged self-imposed term-limits; before a time when many of those same congressmen took back that pledge- and many other pledges.

And while the Contract was a collaborative effort, no name was more strongly attached to it than current presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s.

The Contract was a document that captured the imagination of the believers in limited government and self-reliance and capital markets. It told us the American people had an advocate who took small government seriously. The Contract still is a powerful image in the minds of small government, free market conservatives.    

And that is why I would relish a Newt Gingrich presidency as a chance at redeeming that lost opportunity.

The Contract contained provisions that would have included a balanced budget amendment, term limits for Congress, tort reform, the elimination of legislation by regulation- made practically an art form by our current administration.

In fact, I think it’s safe to say that had the Contract with America been fully implemented we would have not faced decades of boom and bust policies emanating from the federal government. At the very least, we certainly would not be facing the super deficits, the spiraling economic crisis, out-of-control federal spending and un-helpful entanglements with the UN had we heeded the advice of then House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Like Winston Churchill, who spent much of two decades in the political wilderness because he wanted to be right rather than powerful, Gingrich has proven to be prescient when it comes to what kills our economy.

This week Gingrich released major details of his new contract called a 21st Century Contract with America.

In the new contract, the campaign vows to “[liberate] the poor from the trap of the Welfare Empire through new programs that are tailored to local communities, that promote work and that incentivize lifelong study. Building on the success of the 1996 welfare reforms, block-granting all federal means tested welfare programs back to the states would help millions move from dependency to prosperity while saving taxpayers trillions.”

Gingrich says that we have three choices when it comes to entitlement reform: 1) The Fantasy option- an option which I think best describes the Democrats’ approach to government; 2) The Austerity option- an option which we see Europe being forced into because of dawdling too long on Fantasy Island with the Democrats; and 3) the Growth and Innovation option- an option which plays to America’s strength as the global economic powerhouse that our traditional reliance on free markets and innovation used to secure for us.

But first Americans have to come to terms with the failures of their approach to government over the last four decades.

“The current system is broken,” says Gingrich. “Schools do not adequately prepare young Americans for adulthood and the workforce. Americans pay into Social Security their entire lifetimes to receive dismal, inadequate returns. Medicare dramatically limits options for retired Americans. And the welfare empire that has grown since the1960s is the greatest engine of inequality of all, trapping millions of Americans in a cycle of poverty.”

While the campaign acknowledges that changing the system will be “controversial,” the reforms once enacted will be like the welfare reform of the 1990s: so successful that even Democrats will have to embrace them.

Obama has governed under the philosophy of not letting our current crisis go to waste to force unpopular “transformation” of American society. Republicans should respond by not letting this great opportunity go to waste to reestablish a traditional small government, free market approach that has been opened up by Democrat overreach and mismanagement.

Because this could be our last chance.

PS- If you friend me on Facebook you get sneak peeks of columns!  

PS Part 2- The email function at the top of the page working again. Sorry it took so long. Let the Hate Mail begin!


John Ransom | Create Your Badge

Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/bamransom -See more top stories from Townhall Finance. New Homepage, more content. Be the best informed fiscal conservative.