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Leading By Listening

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

It’s always good to find topics where liberals and conservatives can agree. When we’re all striving toward the same goals we’re more likely to reach them.

For example, avowed leftist Van Jones, the Obama administration’s former “green jobs czar” who’s now at the Center for American Progress says, “We’re trying to build a pro-democracy movement.”

Well, if it’s democracy you want to promote, that’s easy enough: Listen to the people, and follow their wisdom.

Candidates can make three simple promises that would go a long way toward restoring the will of the people. First, they should vow to repeal Obamacare.

The math on this is clear. In the months before Congress passed the law, polls found that more people disapproved of Obamacare than approved. In March, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously declared lawmakers needed, “to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of controversy.”

They’ve done so, but people still oppose the new law. A recent Pew/National Journal poll found “nearly half of Americans (47 percent) disapprove of the health care law while just 35 percent approve of the measure.”

Congress should take sensible steps to use the power of the free market to bring down health care costs. But people recognize that Obamacare doesn’t take those steps. By repealing it, lawmakers could go back to the beginning and deliver improvements to health care policy.

The second promise candidates should make is to control long-term spending.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has published a sensible roadmap on how to reform Social Security and Medicare and reduce discretionary spending to responsible levels. His plan isn’t the only way forward, but it’s a serious proposal and certainly would be a movement in the right direction.

By contrast, over the past 18 months the pairing of Obamacare with serial “stimulus” spending sprees has driven the national debt to dizzying levels. The federal government plans to spend $30,000 per household this year, up $5,000 per household from just two years ago. Such spending increases are simply unsustainable.

The Tea Party movement is a democratic response to this overspending. Millions of Americans are gathering to say “enough.” Politicians need to take heed.

Finally, congressional candidates should vow to roll back the massive tax hikes slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2011. That’s when many provisions of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are scheduled to expire.

Unless lawmakers act, the investment tax rate on dividends will jump, the child tax credit will drop from $1,000 to $500, and many couples will lose their protection from the marriage penalty.

Congress seems unlikely to renew these cuts before November, though. That would mean a massive, $3.2 trillion tax hike over the next decade. Virtually everyone who earns income would be hit. Even those in the lowest tax bracket would see their tax rates jump from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Few voters ever support policies to boost taxes. This year, in the midst of a recession, a massive tax increase would be both unpopular and counterproductive.

Some of our leaders plan to wait until after the elections to try to ram through unpopular legislation. “The lame-duck session is when all of this is going to get resolved,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told The Hill newspaper.

But it would be better to allow people to vote on whether they’d like the government to boost their taxes to pay for its out-of-control spending.

The 2010 midterms will give Americans a chance to express their will. Our leaders should promise to enact conservative policies, and “we, the people” should hold them accountable.

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