by Rod D. Martin
December 8, 1999
Republicans must offer a realizable vision of hope, growth and opportunity to win in 2000. This is the lesson of two Reagan landslides and the Contract With America. It is also the grim lesson of 1996 and ’98.
To define such a vision, we must give preference to those issues which will fundamentally improve America, which are easily explained and yet rooted in principle, and which may actually be implemented in the near term. The American people are tired of palaver: they want results. And their fundamental common sense gives conservatives an incredible opportunity next year, if conservatives are willing to shed the Beltway gobbledy-gook and return to their Reagan roots.
Hence, this roadmap to a better America.
1. We want less government and lower, fairer taxes. There can be no compromise here: just ask George Bush. And both goals can be accomplished by a single reform: the flat tax, with an abolition of withholding.
A flat tax that’s a tax cut will restore justice to the tax code while returning to every American a share of the prosperity they’ve created. Entirely removing families with $36,000 a year or less from the tax rolls and completely abolishing both capital gains and death taxes, such a tax will unleash an unprecedented economic boom and lift millions of lower-income families into the upper or upper-middle class.
It will also turn back enormous power to the people. With a flat tax, every American will be able to calculate in his head exactly what he owes, and exactly what any new program will cost him, personally. He’ll rebel. He won’t stand for it. When he knows the personal cost of a crucifix dipped in urine, or any other nutty liberal scheme, he’ll demand politicians who believe in the Tenth Amendment. This is why Democrats hate the plan.
Abolishing withholding intensifies all this: workers will actually write the IRS a check. Every month. Out of money they’ve already received. And deposited. And, psychologically, spent. And they’ll do it while their employers keep the same records as right now, making sure everyone really pays up. Only two words can describe this: tax revolt. And as the people begin to vote based on this kind of deeply personal pain, taxes will plummet, prosperity will soar, and the nanny state will be dismantled in a decade.
2. We want government to stop stealing from old ladies. Assuming it survives – and virtually no one under the age of forty believes they’ll ever see a dime – Social Security takes over twelve percent of your income throughout your working life and gives you a negative rate of return. Yes, you lose money. Lots of money. And little old ladies eat dog food across this country while, if they had invested their own retirement, they could have eaten steak.
It’s time to give you back your money. To this end, we should stop taxing Social Security benefits, stop punishing post-retirement employment, and start letting younger Americans invest their Social Security taxes any way they want, in a new system of Personal Retirement Accounts that will work just like IRAs and 401(k)s. We’ll keep the promise of Social Security for everyone who’s in the system. But we’ll give a choice to everyone else.
No reform will do more to restore the American Dream. Letting Americans control their retirement savings – something Chile, Britain and Australia already successfully do – will rapidly restore dignity to the elderly. And since the accounts will be your property – in banks and brokerages instead of the Treasury – they will help finance new homes, college educations, and whatever else creative American minds may dream. Moreover, with the abolition of the death tax, whatever’s left over when you die will be there as a nest egg for your kids and grandkids. This “Social Security Plus” will fuel an era of economic growth unlike any the world has ever seen.
3. We want a government that will defend America. While Bill Clinton pays for a missile defense for both Israel and Japan (and maybe South Korea and Taiwan), he won’t spend a dime to deploy one here. This is insane at best, Chinagate at worst. The Defense Department’s own study says we can deploy a defense against nuclear missiles today, whether from China, North Korea, Iraq or wherever, using existing AEGIS technology, for a paltry $5 billion, $10 billion at the most. We want a government that’ll do it.
Moreover, it is unconscionable that many of our servicemen live on Food Stamps, sleep in substandard housing, and work and fight without the weapons – or even spare parts – they need. While multiplying missions 300%, Clinton’s America has dismissed more soldiers and dismantled more weapons than fought the Gulf War. A disaster looms.
George Washington said the most effective way to preserve the peace was to prepare for war. Ronald Reagan proved him right. It’s time for a new generation of Republicans to take over from the flower children and actually defend America.
4. Finally, we want candidates who believe what we believe. If Americans want a liberal, they’ll vote for one. A squishy Republican will lose his own base, and everyone else to boot. So let’s make this clear: the right to life, the right to keep and bear arms, and Constitutional government are not negotiable; not now, not ever. Woe be unto the stupid Republican who forgets it.
A Republican Party which stands on these issues and principles in 2000 will win. It will have the enthusiastic support of its base – which is justifiably angry after the past two elections – and it will appeal to the Reagan Democrats as well. A common sense conservatism that restores power to the people by giving back control over their money and their lives will resonate. It will also remove the tarnish of the Nineties, and restore this land as the shining city on a hill it was always meant to be.