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Archive for May, 2011

I’m sure that just about every American would agree that our government is in a financial crisis.  Regardless of whether Congress agrees to raise the debt ceiling or not, we cannot continue on our present course; we spend more than we take in, we borrow from foreign nations, and our government expands all the while.  It is a degenerative cycle that will bankrupt future generations.

Back in 2008, I offered the following suggestion to my fellow conservative voters,  “When considering the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, I encourage you to put the torch under each candidate asking, ‘if elected, what federal programs, agencies, or departments will you work to eliminate?’” These words were important then, but they are far more pressing today.

As of May 2011, there are five candidates seeking the Virginia Republican nomination for the 2012 U.S. Senate race.  But do any of them actually plan to cut the size and scope of the federal government?  And, if so, what specific areas do they look to cut?  Although I had read snippets from the various campaign websites, I didn’t have a clear and concise answer to this question.  Therefore, I decided to contact each candidate seeking an answer.  Here is the question I put forth on April 27th:

As more and more citizens across the commonwealth of Virginia take interest in our upcoming 2012 Senate Race, many of us are increasing alarmed about the size of our staggering federal deficit.  Too many members of both parties spend our money on frivolous programs and thus the government continues to expand.  One obvious solution is to dismantle portions of the government that are questionably unconstitutional or wasteful and return these powers to the state governments or the people.  Therefore, as a Republican candidate seeking to represent us in the United States Senate, the burning question on my mind is, if elected, what federal programs, agencies, or departments will you work to eliminate?

Thank you for your time.  I look forward to sharing your answers, as well as those of the other candidates, with the readers of my blog, The Virginia Conservative.

Sincerely,

Joshua Huffman
conservativeva@gmail.com

Now, I should mention in fairness, I asked George Allen for a little more information.  Given that he previously held one of our Senate seats, I also inquired what programs he worked to cut during his time in office from 2000-2006.

Having served on many campaigns over the years, I know how busy and hectic they can be.  Nevertheless, I am appreciative that all five of the campaigns found the time to answer my request.  I’m pleased to present to you, the readers of The Virginia Conservative, their unedited answers in the same order that they were received.   I hope my fellow Republican primary voters find their remarks enlightening.


Jamie Radtke

One of Jimmy Carter’s boondoggles, the Department of Energy, was created in response to the OPEC oil crisis of the 1970s with the goal of promoting alternative energy sources and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Look at where we are today. If there was ever an example of federal agency that’s spent billions and failed in its mission — DOE fits the bill. Since DoE was created, the amount of oil the U.S. imports has risen from roughly 45% to nearly 70%. The DoE also actively supported research and production of energy sources that are not — and likely never will be — viable without ongoing taxpayer subsidies.

The Department of Education is another spectacular failure from Jimmy Carter. For decades, U.S. student performance has declined relative to the rest of the world. In response to the problem, the federal government has thrown tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money and regulations at the problem. Yet the DoED is failing with flying colors and the U.S. continues to lose ground against the world. Until Jimmy Carter, education had always been a local issue, and it should become so again, without DC taking a cut of the education budget and then sending the money back to the states. It is time for parents and local governments to control education and not teacher unions and a federal bureaucracy.

A third quasi-federal activity (among many) that I would move out of the government is Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for many reasons. Earlier this month, Fannie Mae announced it lost $6.5 billion in the first quarter of 2011, and also asked for $6.2 billion more in taxpayer subsidies. So far, between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, American taxpayers are on the hook for at least $138 billion.

It’s time to privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and get the government out of the mortgage business. It just makes common sense. They’re a prime example of what can go wrong when Washington politics and lobbying combine with Wall Street finance. Working hand-in-glove with executives at Fannie and Freddie, Congress guaranteed billions of dollars in bad loans which contributed to the sub-prime mortgage meltdown in 2007-2008, leading to the Great Recession.

Before the housing meltdown, a handful of Senate Republicans tried to rein in Fannie and Freddie. Senator Chuck Hagel circulated a letter to Republican senators in a desperate effort to get Majority Leader Bill Frist to bring a reform bill to a vote in the Senate. But they ran into a lobbying buzz saw. According to an Associated Press story, Freddie Mac hired lobbying firm DCI of Washington to help keep Republican senators from supporting the bill. For instance, Freddie Mac paid lobbying firm DCI $10,000 every month just to focus on persuading Senator George Allen not to support Senator Hagel’s legislation. In the end, nine of the 17 GOP senators targeted by DCI chose not to sign the letter – including Senator George Allen. The lack of Republican support for the bill doomed it. A year later the sub-prime mortgage crisis began.

There are proposals now before the House and Senate that would take a quick approach to transitioning Fannie and Freddie to the private sector and reducing the risk to American taxpayers. One such bill is H.R. 1182, introduced by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and co-sponsored by 47 other members, including Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Randy Forbes, and Rep. Paul Ryan. Unfortunately, there is considerable resistance on Capitol Hill to privatizing Fannie and Freddie. Unfortunately, the Washington lobbyists who got us into this mess are saying it would be just terrible to privatize Fannie and Freddie – and Congress seems to be listening to the lobbyists.

Congress is like a family that’s been living beyond its means and borrowing each month – for years – to pay its bills. Now it’s credit is running out and it’s fallen behind on the mortgage and if it doesn’t cut its spending it’s going to lose its home. A family can sit down at the dinner table, face the hard choices and make the tough decisions. It’s not pleasant or easy, but families do it all the time. It works because each family controls its own spending. But we — the taxpayers — don’t control Washington’s spending. The hard truth is, right now, we can’t make Congress stop spending.

What to cut is vitally important. But let’s be careful not to get the cart in front of the horse. Right now, we still have to figure out how to get the Washington politicians to sit down at the dinner table and agree to make some real cuts – instead of continuing to borrow. The best way to do this is to freeze the debt ceiling and stop the spending insanity. We must start to live within our means. Because when you find yourself in a hole, the best thing to do is… stop digging!

*A release from the Jamie Radtke campaign. Sent May 5th, 2011.  Revised May 17th.

David McCormick

Reduce the size, scope, and power of the Federal Government

  • Downsize the bureaucracy of the Federal Government one department at a time.  First eliminate the Department of Education, followed by the Department of Energy, followed by the Department of HUD and lastly the EPA.  Once the Fair Tax is implemented; eliminate the IRS.
  • Balance the Budget and pay off all debt.  It is the moral obligation of our generation to pay off all our debts.
  • Stop all earmarks, bailouts, subsidies, stimulus, and corporate welfare.
  • Privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Audit all transactions for the past 20 years.
  • Audit and nationalize the Federal Reserve.

Stop the Corruption and Political Pandering in Washington

  • Ban all Senators from working as a lobbyist for a period of 10 years from retirement.
  • Limits on Power- Term limits for all Federal Judges (8 years), Congressmen (8 years) and Senators (6 years).
  • Stop all stock and commodities trading by all Senators and their staff.
  • Send Them Home- I support the conversion from a full-time to a part-time Congress and Senate.  Reduce all budgets by 33%.
  • Transparent Legislation- All bills under 100 pages shall be made public for 7 days before a vote.  All bills over 100 pages shall be made public for 21 days.  All bills must identify the parties that have drafted the bill, must have an economic cost analysis, a source of funding and the citation of the Constitutional authority.
  • All amendments to any bill must relate back to its main provision.

* A release from the David McCormick campaign. May 12, 2011

E. W. Jackson

Note from The Virginia Conservative: Unlike the rest of the candidates, Mr. Jackson’s campaign did not send a formal written statement, but rather a brief email in combination with a phone conversation.  Therefore, although the thoughts are his, the specific words are mine.

Mr. Jackson is a strong supporter of the Fair Tax.  He believes that our debt is our greatest priority.

As for specific departments within the federal government, he intends to work to abolish: The Department of Education, The Department of Energy, and The Department of Housing & Urban Development.  Mr. Jackson is a strict constructionist who will not support laws not authorized by the Constitution.

* From the Jackson campaign on May 18th, 2011 and May 23rd.

George Allen

Our country’s annual deficit is set to hit a record $1.5 trillion this year – and that’s after two straight years of trillion dollar annual deficits.  Washington’s out-of-control spending – the $800 billion jobless stimulus, the unconstitutional government mandated healthcare, and bailouts – has to end.  The small businesses and the families of Virginia can’t afford to continue footing the bill for unsustainable government growth.

America needs to get back to our constitutional roots, respecting the limitations our Founders placed on the power of the national government and insisting on the wise and frugal government that Mr. Jefferson described in his first inaugural address.  I don’t know anyone outside of Washington who thinks today’s over-reaching, over-spending federal government is being a wise steward of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars or operating at 100% efficiency.  A few months ago the GAO came out with a report that confirms what we already knew – the federal government’s budget is bloated with duplication and hundreds of billions of dollars of waste.  We can start to rein in the spending by consolidating or eliminating some of these wasteful, duplicative programs saving billions of taxpayer dollars.

I would begin to rein in government by rolling back the excesses of the Obama Administration — from repealing Obamacare and its unconstitutional mandates to getting rid of all the unelected, unaccountable “Czars” who do not have the scrutiny of Senate confirmation yet exercise far-reaching powers that affect not just spending in Washington, but our very freedoms as Americans.  Right behind them are all of the new regulators who have been added in agencies such as the EPA and the IRS, helping fuel the regulatory excesses that are burdening our families and our economy.  We must stop spending taxpayer money on programs that clearly aren’t working like the $800 billion jobless stimulus.

Several federal Departments and agencies are ripe for streamlining — Energy, Commerce, the Surgeon General’s office as well as the Department of Education — with the majority of their activities and authority turned back over to the people in the States, where such decisions rightfully belong.   There is no better example of how this can work than welfare reform.  During my service as Governor, Virginia took over the federal government’s bloated, initiative-sapping welfare program, transformed it to reflect Virginia values of work and individual responsibility, saved taxpayers money and put people on the path of leading independent, self-reliant lives.

We should also take a page from Blue Ribbon Strike Force that I appointed as my first act as Governor and pursue government management reforms such as selling unneeded and unused federal property; cutting back the federal government’s growing fleet of vehicles and civilian aircraft and tightly controlling to make certain those that remain in the fleet are used only for legitimate business purposes and when most cost-effective; and eliminating wasteful printing and publications.

It is clear that Washington is in desperate need of checks and balances to stop the Washington Democrat agenda that has vastly expanded the size and scope of government and put our country on the verge of bankruptcy.

Throughout my service to the people of Virginia, I have worked to rein in and reform government to make sure it does its job efficiently and effectively and does not waste our hard-earned tax dollars.

During my service as Governor, we reduced the size of the state government payroll by 10,000 while providing the conditions for businesses to create over 310,000 net new private sector jobs in Virginia through lower taxes on job creators, business recruitment and prompt permitting.  I also appointed a Blue Ribbon Strike Force to identify ways to eliminate waste in Virginia’s government and ordered a comprehensive review of state government regulations that resulted in over 70 percent of all regulations being eliminated or modified to be less burdensome. These reforms made government more efficient and less intrusive for families and businesses.

I took that same philosophy to the Senate where I earned a lifetime rating of 93% from the American Conservative Union and a 100% rating from Americans for Tax Reform for keeping America competitive for jobs and investment while cutting wasteful spending so taxpayers could keep more of what they earn. I was one of 15 Senators to vote against the wasteful Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska; I voted for earmark reform to bring accountability and transparency to the process; and led the successful fight for the Internet tax moratorium to ensure federal, state and local governments could not tax internet access and threatening its future as a source of economic growth.

Recognizing that unelected bureaucracies needed to be held in check, I cosponsored the Congressional Responsibility Act which would prevent regulatory overreach by requiring approval by elected representatives.  I also advanced ideas to return more decision-making to the states and to the people – for example, I supported creation of an education demonstration program similar to the welfare reform model whereby up to 7 States and 80 localities could receive funds as a block grant to use according to state and local priorities (receiving a waiver from rigid federal program  formulas).

I was a sponsor of the Commission on the Accountability and Review of Federal Agencies Act which would have established a commission to review federal agencies and programs and recommend the elimination of duplication, wasteful or outdated programs and agencies.

Believing the government should not stand in the way of freedom of expression and association I voted against the McCain-Feingold restriction of freedom, fought against outdated, restrictive FCC regulation of cross-ownership of newspapers, TV and radio stations; and stood up against big union bosses costly, non-competitive Project Labor Agreement for building the Wilson Bridge.

I also fought to change the way Washington does business.  I introduced a comprehensive budget reform plan that included a Balanced Budget Amendment with taxpayer protection as well as Presidential line-item veto authority and a “paycheck penalty” that would withhold Members’ salaries when they don’t pass budgets on time. The presidential line item veto authority would give the President the ability to eliminate programs without having to veto an entire appropriations bill.  As Governor, I found using the line-item veto a very useful tool allowing me to cut waste and undesirable policy from spending bills.

These past few years have proven that in the U.S. Senate every single vote counts.  I will be a leader who will fight for real reforms to get our country back on the path to prosperity.  If given the honor and responsibility of serving the people of Virginia in the United States Senate, I pledge to work hard rein in the federal government; work to create an economic environment to make America competitive for jobs; and fight to unleash American energy resources thereby creating more jobs and more affordable electricity, fuels and food.

* A release from the George Allen campaign.  Sent May 23rd, 2011.

Tim Donner

The single most important element of reducing the size and scope of the federal government is to think big.  Repeated fights over individual line items in the federal budget have produced the same results: threats of government shutdowns accompanied by minimal reductions.

Exhibit A was the recent fight between the two parties that supposedly resulted in $38 billion in cuts.  But when the CBO crunched the numbers, the actual amount of cuts was $355 milliion, a proverbial drop in the bucket, or more precisely, the ocean.  The same accounting tricks that have become the trademark of Capitol Hill were employed to inflate the cuts dramatically.  For example, almost $2 billion was “cut” in 2011 for the now-completed 2010 census…funds that obviously could not be spent anyway.

It is true that the Departments of Energy and Education have been demonstrably counter-productive to their stated goals – educational outcomes have decreased in inverse proportion to federal spending, and we have failed to develop anything approaching a coherent energy policy as we become increasingly dependent on foreign energy sources.

But while these departments and others should be squarely on the chopping block, the reality is that we will get nowhere in reducing the size and scope of government as long as we are willing to deal with only the 12% of the federal budget that has been on the table – non-defense domestic discretionary spending.

It is well beyond time that we deal with 100% of the federal budget.

This entails going beyond just spending cuts to structural reform, foremost of which should be a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget and limit federal spending to 18% of GDP (as proposed by Utah Sen. Mike Lee).  Only by limiting budgets by law can we ultimately forge a permanent cure for Washington’s spending addiction.

This also entails, yes, “entitlement” reform, and Medicare is undeniably the biggest storm cloud on the near horizon.  And while I applaud Paul Ryan and his courageous foray into the hornet’s nest of Medicare reform, his premium support plan is, in my view, insufficient for the long-term sustainability of a popular program crippled by the reality of up to $70 trillion in unfunded liabilities.  Instead, we must evolve long-term to a system in which participants are given the choice to re-direct their Medicare contributions – and those of their employers – to retirement health savings accounts.

These structural reforms will take time, but will result in what should be the ultimate goal of reducing the size and scope of government – to give Americans the opportunity to keep more of their own money, make more of their own decisions and take greater control of their own lives.

* A release from the Donner campaign. Sent May 28th, 2011.

Although this article originally included responses from only the first four candidates listed, within hours of posting I received word from both the Donner campaign and Mr. Donner himself.  Not quite sure what caused the communication glitch, but I’m glad to have Mr. Donner join this conversation.

So what do you think of the responses of all five of the candidates for U.S. Senate?

Next year, conservatives, libertarians, moderates, and, yes, even some liberals across Virginia will be heading to the polls to select our Republican nominee for Senator.  It is imperative that we educate ourselves; we must become informed voters who choose a candidate who best addresses the specific needs of our state and nation.

As stated at the beginning, I, for one, strongly believe that we must reduce the size and scope of our bloated federal government to chip away at our staggering debt and restore our limited Constitutional framework.  That is why I have sought and now offer you the thoughts of four conservative men and one conservative woman who seek this high office.

So whose plan is the best?  Whose ideas are most feasible?  There will be plenty of time for commentary in the days to come.  I hope that the answers provided by the five candidates will aid you in your decision.

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Prior to today’s cloture vote on Senate Bill 1038, which would extend provisions of the Patriot Act, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky offered the following thoughts on the issue:

You should know that the cloture vote passed the Senate by a significant margin, 74-8.  The eight Senators who voted no are:  Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Dean Heller (R-NV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rand Paul (R-KY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Jon Tester (D-MT).  Will any other Senators vote against the measure once it comes to a full vote on the Senate floor?

But don’t worry!  If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear!  Right?

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I admit that I don’t visit the Libertarian Party‘s website very often; maybe a couple of times a year.  But, when I stopped by today, a recent poll caught my attention.  It asked, “after hearing that Osama bin Laden was killed, what are your feeling about the War in Afghanistan?”  Out of the 4,516 respondents, a considerable majority, 66%, answered that, “I supported a withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan even before bin Laden died.”  A small contingency, 9%, holds to the belief that, “I don’t believe the story that Osama bin Laden was killed recently.”  Although it is true that the Obama administration has not offered any hard evidence that bin Laden, to simply dismiss the claim represents, in my mind, a disturbing trend toward a total distrust of government and the rise of wild conspiracy theories.

Personally, I favor the viewpoint held by 13% who say that, “I now favor a withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan.”  After all, the whole purpose of the mission was to bring justice to the people who attacked the United States on 9/11/2001.  And no, unlike the 9/11-truther movement, I do not think that Bush brought down the towers, but rather it was a small group of Arabian Islamic radicals headed by Osama bin Laden.  Unlike in Iraq, in Afghanistan we had a clearly defined mission, capture or kill Osama bin Laden.  Considering that goal is accomplished, it is time for our soldiers to head home.  They should not be used as domestic Afghan police or to rebuild bridges and schools.

The whole Afghan adventure should provide a sobering lesson regarding foreign policy.  Supposed allies propped up with massive funding can turn against us.  After all, we poured considerable wealth into Afghanistan in the 80′s to fight the Soviet Union.  Although that mission was successful, it did spawn unintended consequences once those former “freedom fighters” turned their eye on our own nation.

Anyway, it is time for a new poll on The Virginia Conservative closely mirroring the one on the Libertarian site.  What are your thoughts on the matter?  Do you agree with a majority of Libertarians, neo-conservatives, myself, or do you hold some other opinion?  Feel free to add your comments as well.

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When I talk to Republicans about Ron Paul these days, I often get the response, “well, I like him…except for his foreign policy.”  Fortunately, it is true that Ron Paul is gaining more acceptance and respect in Republican circles these days.  Of course, it wasn’t so long ago that they were extremely hostile.  Back in 2007-08 when I worked for Rep. Paul, some Republicans stated that they strongly disliked Dr. Paul strictly based on his foreign policy.

But are Ron Paul’s foreign policy positions really that farfetched?  For the record, he supports a humble foreign policy, which includes opposing: nation-building, wars that are undeclared, ill-defined, and/or humanitarian, spreading our troops thinly around the globe, and using our military as the world’s policemen.  I’m sure that every Republican, with the exception of the zealous neoconservative, could agree with at least part of his stance.

I’ll admit it.  Back in the 2000 elections, foreign policy was not the most important issue to me.  After all, we had (and still have) dire domestic concerns that require our attention.  What people X do in country Y is of little importance…so long as the lives, liberty, and property of American citizens is not directly harmed.  I believed then, as I still believe today, that the purpose of our government and our military is to protect our people, not to “liberate”, “depose”, or “make the world safe for democracy”.

Nevertheless, I did oppose Clinton’s actions in Somalia, Bosnia, and elsewhere.  So too did a majority of Republicans, including future President George W. Bush.  Think back to the words of George Bush during the 2000 campaign.

It is strange.  George Bush could speak against nation building back in 2000 and just about every Republican would applaud.  Ron Paul uses many of the same words today as Bush did then, and some of the same people would boo.  Did the words some how change their meaning?  Or has the GOP I remember abandoned its principles?

What happened to this President?  What happened to the Republican Party?  Regrettably, it seems that both George Bush and the GOP became casualties of the attacks of 9-11, morphing into something scarcely recognizable.

I say that it is time to reclaim the limited government advocating, Constitution supporting, humble foreign policy promoting GOP of 2000.  Of all of the candidates running or rumored to be running for president, there is only one who has a proven track record of supporting these principles tempered with a commitment to protect the unborn and guarding our borders.  That person, like George Bush, is a fellow Texan; Representative Ron Paul.

I want a return to the GOP I remember.  Heck, I want a return to the nation I remember before little old ladies and children were molested at airports in the name of security.  Let me tell you that if you liked the foreign policy principles of 2000 George W. Bush, chances are you’ll love Ron Paul.  Now don’t think that Ron Paul can change our country overnight; after all, a President is restrained by the Constitution.  Nevertheless, he can get it heading in the right direction again.  I hope you’ll join me in supporting him.

Ron Paul 2012!

Special thanks to Nick for sharing the above video.

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In my previous post on Monday, I wrote about the horrible prospect of shattering our current national debt ceiling of over $14 trillion.  There is no doubt that our nation is in serious trouble.  We cannot afford these record deficits and any attempts at spending cuts under this current Congress have been laughable at best thus far.

A few moments ago, I received an email from the Radtke campaign regarding her thoughts on this issue.  I’m glad to see that she and I are of a similar mindset.  As I’ve stated, we cannot spend our way to prosperity.  I haven’t found anything from the other candidates on this issue either on their websites or elsewhere, but I hope whomever we elect will work diligently to curb this outrageous spending.

In case you didn’t get the memo, I’m giving an open invitation to all the Senate campaigns; I welcome any and all information that any of you care to send.  Email me something interesting or something I agree with and, chances are, I’ll write about it.

Getting back to the main focus of this article, although I run the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is simply unfair to burden future generations with our current irresponsibility.

So here are Jamie Radtke’s thoughts:

Yesterday the U.S. government reached the federal debt ceiling of $14.294 trillion. The Washington Establishment consensus seems to be that we must raise the debt ceiling and increase the limit on the taxpayer credit card to as much as $16 trillion by some proposals.

There is an expression – “when you are in a hole… stop digging” – but the Washington Establishment and career politicians seem determined to dig us all the way to China. Congressional Republicans should refuse to raise the debt ceiling and should instead take the actual step of balancing the budget.

I have been traveling all over the great Commonwealth of Virginia and something I hear consistently is: don’t raise the debt ceiling and let’s live within our means. People outside of the Washington Establishment are feeling the effects of an irresponsible government every time they fill up with gas or buy groceries. The spending insanity must stop.

It is wiser to make the hard choices now, before the debt crisis explodes and wreaks uncontrollable havoc on our economy. Standard & Poor’s downgraded its credit outlook on the U.S. to “Negative” and has already warned us that business as usual spending approach cannot continue.

The real problem is finding leaders with the backbone to stop the immoral spending. Instead of actual cuts, current career politicians ‘promise’ cuts. However, we saw last March that Congress’ ‘promises’ are meaningless. During the budget negotiations the ‘promised’ spending cuts shrank from $100 billion to $353 million.

So it has fallen to a handful of principled conservatives in the House and Senate to tell Congress and the President: It’s time to stop digging!

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As the federal government rapidly approaches its debt limit, powerful lawmakers and bureaucrats are suggesting that we increase that ceiling as to allow the government to go further into the red.  Now, I’m sure that just about every American knows that the federal government doesn’t merely suffer from some minor credit problem.  After all, how many other industrialized nations have a debt clock to keep track of the gross irresponsibility of their leaders?  Why is it that we have allowed our elected representatives to go $14.29 trillion into debt?

Speaking of that matter, do you have $129,105 sitting around to give to Washington?  No?  Well, that is how much you owe.  Given this information, why are there not daily mass protests in the streets as our legislators spend, not only our future, but the future of our children and their children as well?

Consider your own personal finances for a moment if you will.  Imagine that your spending vastly outpaces your income.  Worse yet, all of your credit cards are maxed out and you only pay the interest on your debt, not the principle.  What is the solution?  Although a wise person might suggest that you seek a credit councilor and get your problem under control, D.C. takes a different approach.  They think that we simply need a higher credit limit or a new credit card.  Although we know such behavior leads to personal ruin, for some reason we have allowed our President and members of Congress to be completely negligent stewards of taxpayer money.  When the government spends our money on foolish and unconstitutional endeavors, we ought to be upset.  However, the time for being merely upset is over.  Given that the government spends money that they don’t even have to the tune of over $14 trillion, we have devolved into a state of crisis.

The solution to this problem is relatively easy, although admittedly not without pain and hardship.  Rather than raise the debt ceiling again and again, we must drastically slash spending, payoff our debts, and balance the budget once and for all.  Every department, agency, and program has to be cut, and many eliminated entirely.  Republicans and Democrats alike have been spending our money like drunken sailors.  Enough is enough.

In a speech back in 1996, President Bill Clinton famously stated, “the era of big government is over” while also calling for a balanced budget.  Back then the deficit was only about $6 trillion.  Unfortunately, Clinton was wrong.  No, boys and girls, big government is alive and well and growing larger by the day.

Maybe we too should take a page from Washington and personally borrow to finance all of our wildest hopes and dreams.  After all, according to their model, we must be able spend our way to prosperity.  Oh, don’t you worry.  We won’t have to pay for any of it.  Put that big-ticket item on my unborn child’s tab.

Although I’m aware that it is merely wishful thinking, I’d like every American to write this simple message to their Representatives and Senators:  you vote to increase the debt ceiling and we vote you out of office.

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On Friday, Washington Examiner and President of the Young Conservatives Coalition Christopher Malagisi wrote an article concerning Ron Paul’s and Gary Johnson’s recent participation in the South Carolina’s Republican Presidential Debate.  I encourage you to read his piece for yourself.  To follow is my commentary on it.

As you can tell from the title of my work, I believe that Malagisi’s conclusions are just flat out wrong.  He starts out claiming that the Republican Party is a three-legged stool, a merging of libertarians, traditionalists, and anti-communists.  Unfortunately, in this article, we are left with only inadequate assumptions of what he means by these terms.  However, if we look to one of his earlier posts, we find that he lists them as “1.) Classical Liberals – who believe in a limited government, individual liberty, and free markets; 2.) Traditionalists – who believe in preserving our traditional values and heritage; and 3.) Anti-Communists – who believe in a strong national defense.”   Although I would shy away from using the phrase “anti-communist” because I think it is outdated and has little real significance since the collapse of the Soviet Union, I believe he is spot on regarding this fusion of political ideologies within the party.

After this one salient point, Malagisi’s work devolves into fairly mindless bashing of Paul and Johnson for embracing this libertarian or “classical liberal” wing.  He claims that both men are more suited to be Democrats rather than Republicans because they don’t support the war on terror or imposed moral standards coming out of Washington D.C.  Doesn’t it seem strange that Malagisi admits there are three legs of the party, while at the same time seeking to saw off one entirely?  Although this news may come as a shock to those who lack either common sense or a basic understanding of physics, but this two-legged stool that Malagisi seems to be advocating cannot stand.

But Joshua, Chris implies that Ron Paul doesn’t want to defend our country.  Oh really?  Is it possible that one can be in favor of a robust defense while at the same time opposing undeclared wars, imperialism, and nation building?  If he is so “anti-national defense”, why did Paul receive more donations than any other candidate during the Republican nomination process in 2007-08, including former military veteran John McCain?

OK, I guess, but what about his claim that Ron Paul wants to erode our social values through destroying traditional marriage and legalizing heroin. Wrong again.  What Ron Paul has consistently advocated is taking power away from politicians and bureaucrats in the nation’s capital and returning this power to the states.  Just because we want the federal government to do one thing or another, doesn’t that desire allow us to circumvent the Constitution?  After all, are we not a nation of laws?

Let’s look at the question in another light.  To use Virginia as an example, who has defended our Judeo-Christian values better, D.C. or Richmond?  Which has produced greater restrictions on abortion?  Which has enshrined the traditional definition of marriage in its constitution?  Under federalism, conservative states, like Virginia, can offer their citizens a more upright society, while more liberal states, like Nevada or Vermont, provide outlets for sins of the flesh.  Is your state too liberal or conservative?  The proper remedy is to lobby your elected officials in your state capitol or move to a state more suited to your point of view rather than ram your social values, or lack thereof, down the throats of every citizen of the U.S. of A.

Those points aside, Malagisi then goes on to discuss the three most recent Republican nominees for President as “proper Republicans”.  But were they?  I maintain that Bob Dole and John McCain lost, not because they weren’t Republican enough (whatever that supposedly means), but because they could not appeal to all three kinds of Republicans.  Specifically, they were neither conservative nor libertarian enough.  As Malagisi points out, one of the reasons Bush won was that he advocated “a non-nation building approach”, an idea that resonated with most Republicans, like Paul and Johnson, who were weary of the multitude of Clintonesque adventures.  Then again, we saw how long Bush held true to these ideals.

Both Paul and Johnson are a welcome change to the current Republican politicians as usual who advocate a blend of fiscal irresponsibility, moral pandering absent any real commitment for meaningful legislation, wars without end, and the shredding of our Constitution.  Now, I will admit that Johnson is too libertarian for my tastes, after all, I am a social conservative.  However, with the recent debate as a guide, I would support him over Rick Santorum.  Although Santorum and I agree on many social issues, his statements in the debate lead me to fear that he would support an agenda more akin to fascism than liberty.

Despite what you may think from this post and others populating this blog, I am not a libertarian.  However, as a constitutional or paleo-conservative, I see libertarians as allies as we both seek to rein in the power of the federal government.  We can and do disagree on a number of social issues, like abortion and defending our borders, but the party should welcome these folks to counterbalance the Republicans who abandon any notion of limiting the power of government while Republicans reign.  After all, as the government continues to grow unabated, the greater fear is not having too much liberty, but having too little.  Still not convinced?  Remember that the idol of modern Republicanism, former President Ronald Reagan once said that, “the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism”.  If we punt Paul and Johnson off the team, we lose those whom Malagisi himself calls the first leg of Republicanism and, like in 1996 and 2008, the stool will collapse.

As Ron Paul’s viewpoints increase in popularity, it comes as no surprise that folks like Malagisi bash him as being a Democrat, even though such claims lack any merit.  Once you get beyond the surface, how many Democrats support reining in the power of the federal government, fiscal responsibility, a noninterventionist foreign policy, and states’ rights?  Can you name even one who embraces these platforms?  I maintain that unlike “mainstream” candidates, Ron Paul is a blend of all three legs of the Republican Party and should be treated likewise.  As I’ve explained above, shouldn’t Malagisi support Representative Paul given that the good doctor embodies Malagisi’s fundamental Republican principles of “individual freedom, limited government, free markets, a strong national defense, and preserving our traditional values and heritage”?

I would wager that either Malagisi is woefully ignorant of Paul and the conservative movement (unlikely) or he is a neoconservative who longs for the return to big government Republicanism.  Either way, I encourage my fellow traditional conservatives and libertarians to steer clear of his poisonous rhetoric.  Although he is welcome to his opinions, given his current political position, I fear how many other potential allies will become unknowingly tainted by his misguided and baseless words.

Update:  Fellow Jeffersoniad blogger Rick Sincere offers his take on Malagisi’s article here.

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