Rep. Jeff Flake a Congressman from Arizona is one of the most intelligent and principled members in the United States Congress. He wrote an article in the Washington Post that appeared in the Albuquerque Journal today in which he laid out a plan for Republicans to re-take Congress by adopting principles of fiscal responsibility. Among Flake’s cures for what ills conservatives:
At the top of that list has to be a recommitment to limited government. After eight years of profligate spending and soaring deficits, voters can be forgiven for not knowing that limited government has long been the first article of faith for Republicans.
Of course, it’s not the level of spending that gets the most attention; it’s the manner in which the spending is allocated. The proliferation of earmarks is largely a product of the Gingrich-DeLay years, and it’s no surprise that some of the most ardent practitioners were earmarked by the voters for retirement yesterday. Few Americans will take seriously Republican speeches on limited government if we Republicans can’t wean ourselves from this insidious practice. But if we can go clean, it will offer a stark contrast to the Democrats, who, after two years in training, already have their own earmark favor factory running at full tilt.
Second, we need to recommit to our belief in economic freedom. Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” may be on the discount rack this year, but the free market is still the most efficient means to allocate capital and human resources in an economy, and Americans know it. Now that we’ve inserted government deeply into the private sector by bailing out banks and businesses, the temptation will be for government to overstay its welcome and force the distribution of resources to serve political ends. Substituting political for economic incentives is not the recipe for economic recovery.
Most House Republicans opposed the recent bailout and will be in a strong position to promote economic freedom over central planning as the Obama administration stumbles from industry to industry trying to determine which is small enough to be allowed to fail and which is not. Since timetables will be in vogue, perhaps Republicans could even insist on a timetable for getting the government out of the private sector.
Republicans here in New Mexico and nationally should heed Flake’s call for real change towards fiscal responsibility. Otherwise, they’ll be in the wilderness for a long time.