Play to Win

Posted: Jun 06, 2005 12:00 AM
Congressional Republicans have not performed like a team since the victory celebrations of November 2004, when they won the majority in both Houses of Congress. The ?deal? recently brokered by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was another example. Not only did he and six other Republicans defect from the leadership of Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) on President Bush?s judicial nominees, they did it in cahoots with seven moderate Democrats. They call it ?trust and maintaining Senate tradition.? I call it divide and delay meaningful solutions to the biggest issues.

Senate Republicans have so far this year shown little desire to follow the president?s ambitious leadership on restructuring Social Security and enacting fundamental changes to the income tax code. Bush, the quarterback, is ready to go with the winning play but too many Senate Republicans, his offensive line, won?t even take the field. Worse yet, many on his own team appear more eager to join the defense and stop every play. It is easy for Congressional Democrats and the liberal media to claim victory after victory when the team controlling the ball stands on the sidelines.

The professional politicians from both parties spend too much time engaged in the ?politics of politics,? instead of working on issues that will secure our nation?s economic infrastructure for our grandchildren. The politics of politics are activities that do more to improve a politician?s campaign war chest and his or her political career than actually finding solutions to our biggest issues.

The Republicans claim that the Democrats have no plan to address the Social Security crisis, but they are not even advancing their own plans. Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John Sanunu (R-NH) have each introduced bills to rebuild Social Security, but Senate Republican leaders insist on holding more hearings and wringing their hands over a lack of Democratic support.

Unless Senate Republicans act more decisively to confirm Bush?s judicial nominees and move a Social Security bill through the legislative process, the opportunity will be lost forever. Even worse, the opportunity to replace the tax code will be set back severely.

Confirming Bush?s judicial nominees is an important and necessary Senate function as prescribed by our Constitution. However, the process should have been completed long ago and the Senate should now be tackling the big issues that most affect our crumbling economic infrastructure: restructuring Social Security and replacing the income tax code.

Elected representatives from both parties are guilty of alienating voters by wasting time on relatively minor issues, procedures, and mudslinging rhetoric. Voters are frustrated when they see the men and women they sent to Congress bicker over ?nuclear options? and ?traditions,? but are the best of friends when trading votes for bridges in the Alaskan wilderness, rainforests in Iowa, and increases in other discretionary spending.

There are hundreds of important economic, social, and moral issues Congress must address each year. Every issue is important to someone, but quite frankly some issues are more important than others and deserve Congress? immediate attention. Unless Congress acts this year to fix Social Security and replace the tax code, all the roads, bridges, and discounted prescription drugs won?t much matter. Senate traditions won?t put gas in the tank or fill Grandma?s prescriptions.

While the Senate fiddles, the nation burns. Small businesses and families are choked by a tax code that punishes success and the entrepreneurial spirit, illegal aliens are crashing our borders like shoppers at an after-Christmas sale and, unless fixed immediately, mandatory Social Security and Medicare spending will soon consume 60 percent of the federal budget.

Accurate polls show that an overwhelming majority of the American public favors having the option of investing their payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts. The voters clearly signaled their support for the president?s agenda on Election Day 2004 by returning the president to the White House, a Republican majority to the House of Representatives, and an increased Republican majority to the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that this so-called deal protects the rights of the minority. The rights of the minority should be respected, but not at the expense of denying the will of the majority. A majority of voters elected a Republican president and Republican majorities to both Houses of Congress.

Working to appease the minority party is not working on the agenda favored by American voters. Republicans are the number one ranked team, but they would apparently rather play for a tie against an unranked opponent.

Successful teams don?t play for a tie. They play to win.