I read that when Congress returns to Washington, one of the first orders of business will be to sort out the future of Social Security and Medicare.
I hope that some of the sounder heads can take the longer view and not panic the first time Bill Clinton stamps his foot and says "no".
Ever since the poorly planned public relations defeat in the fall of 1995, it appears to me that the Republican leadership has been motivated by two types of fear. Neither of them healthy.
The first is real fear. They are afraid that they aren't as smart in public relations as Bill Clinton. And they aren't. However, they shouldn't try to compete with him there.
They should leave him to his polls and they should develop a program that most of them believe in, and sell it to the American public.
From the vantage point of Payson, this program should be:
1. Serious tax reduction;
2. A major movement toward privatization of Social Security;
3. Movement toward medical savings accounts to replace the present hodge-podge system of medical payments, and major paper work;.
4. Finally, a determined drive toward a complete overhaul of the income tax system. My preference is a National Sales Tax, on all purchases, with quarterly tax refunds to all people below certain income levels.
If nothing else, this system would get rid of two thirds of the lobbyists in Washington and get most of American business back to trying to operate economically rather than to further some long-forgotten social objective of some economically illiterate past legislator.
Back to the first three items:
If Congress seriously reduces taxes, you won't have to pick and choose whether you are going to send money back to states and cities, to:
A. Improve the schools
B. Increase law enforcement
C. Subsidize minority business.
If Congress reduces taxes enough, the government won't have any money to send back. We will have it to decide what our community needs -- not some "one-size-fits-all program from Washington".
On item 2 the Breaux-Thomas Committee was on the right track. You just have to convince some of the "command and control" Republicans that the same people who are smart enough to earn the money to pay the taxes, so that they can spend $1.5 trillion dollars every year, are smart enough to invest their own money at a higher rate of return than the Great White Father is getting for them.
After all, 44 million people south of the Rio Grande are doing it. Ask Jose Pinera.
As to item 3, Rep. Dennis Hasten used to believe in this. At least he did when I heard him talk in the past. I hope that elevation to high office hasn't corrupted him.
As to the second kind of fear: Ever since 1996, as the amount of revenue flooding into Washington has increased, Republicans have been nearly as bad as the Democrats in finding new ways to spend money, particularly in their own districts. They have justified this on the fear that if they don't equal the Democrats in spending, they won't get re-elected.
This is a truly unhealthy fear. If they are going to spend like Democrats, who cares if they get re-elected or not? If someone is going to waste my money I would rather it be an enemy than someone I wasted my money to elect in the first place.
In this category the first person that comes to mind is ex-President Bush. If we have any people like him in leadership positions in the Republican Party, we will continue to be the 98-pound weaklings of Washington.