The Conservative Crackup

Working Together Without Claiming Credit
E-mail debates of newsworthy topics.
Nov. 6 2008 3:59 PM

The Conservative Crackup

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Tucker, Ross, Jim, Kathleen, and Christine,

Christine's thoughtful post with the reference to the "common good" is right on target, and I believe it answers her initial question about redistribution. No, phrased that way, America will see it as "theft"; indeed, it is commonplace for some Republicans to view all taxation as theft. But America is genuinely tired of the notion that "government is the problem." That was Reagan's line, and it worked because the need for collective action during most of the '80s was small, except for the military buildup (or, if you will, redistribution to military contractors). The buildup spent the Soviet Union under the table and facilitated the opening of freedom to the Eastern bloc. It was, in short, money well spent. Domestically, however, there was tremendous waste in HUD, HHS, and the like, and the Gipper scored by pointing it out and trimming a bit and experimenting with melding public and private with a greater reliance upon user fees and the like.

To what extent are Republicans prepared to collaborate with their Democratic counterparts to refine, as opposed to obstruct, reform and regulation of the financial markets, for example? While as a party, it will be important to keep a tally of our intellectual contribution, right now, the GOP can earn back some good will simply by improving Democratic health care and other initiatives with our cost-benefit know-how. As we recruit and regenerate, we should also contemplate that new minority leadership is warranted in the new Congress. New faces ought to come to the GOP microphone at day's end in D.C., not to find fault but to manifest cooperation. In short, without a big show of claiming credit, it should be our aim to improve needed regulatory initiatives undertaken by the Obama administration, rather than just obstructing them.

There is no better way to express this spirit of cooperation than by giving great deference to the new president's nominees for the executive. The financial disclosure paperwork should be streamlined, and if the file is ready, the GOP should guarantee a hearing, committee vote, and floor action in no more than a two-week process.

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