Rich Tucker

The United States is the only country that has placed a good chunk of its domestic energy supply off-limits. The Department of the Interior estimates there are 19 billion barrels of oil and 84 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in our nation’s Outer Continental Shelf. That’s enough for several years of domestic oil and gas consumption. Conservative candidates should insist we drill for those resources.

Next, conservatives should vow to slash federal spending.

The federal budget is like a balloon that only gets bigger. Every new program enacted or federal employee hired becomes a permanent feature on the landscape. Lawmakers seem to think they can only add to, never subtract from, the size and scope of government.

That’s not what voters want.

Conservatives should vow to cut spending, and they should lay out particular programs they’ll put on the block. Farm subsidies would be an excellent place to start. In the last four years, prices for critical crops have increased more than 200 percent. Americans feel the pinch every time they go to the supermarket.

Yet the federal government hands out some $25 billion every year in farm subsidies, with most of that money going to big agribusinesses. Consumers pay for food at the cash resister, and through their taxes. It’s time to let farmers, who are doing very well, sink or swim on their own.

Finally, conservative lawmakers should revive an idea President George H.W. Bush proposed but shelved prematurely. Every tax return contains a box asking if taxpayers want to contribute to the presidential election campaign fund. We should create something similar to allow taxpayers to dedicate at least a portion of their taxes to a specific program.

Liberals seem to think Americans love the welfare state, so let’s find out. Allow Americans to dedicate, say, 10 percent of their tax burden to the program they choose: defense, roads, housing, Social Security, whatever. We taxpayers are the paying customers, after all.

Most of us are relieved we don’t get all the government we’re paying for -- but we’d certainly get less government if people were able to decide which programs were worth paying for (the Army) and which weren’t (bridges to nowhere).

Voters deserve a real choice. Politicians should offer our country real -- conservative -- solutions. Doing so would prove them worthy of our votes.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for