Political Musings from a New Leader

After consecutive elections in which they experienced substantial defeat, Republicans are looking for new leadership. One of the figures to emerge has been Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, a responsible Republican from the same hometown as the liberal Senator Russ Feingold. Congressman Ryan wrote the following piece for a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal. He offers clear political and economic suggestions for the future of his party, and more broadly, for his country. Enjoy.

Take Some Political Risks

By Paul Ryan (R-WI)

After two straight electoral defeats, it is time for a substantial party shake-up. We don't need a feather duster; we need a fire hose.

We need to be honest about the root causes of our current financial crisis: loose money, crony capitalism and a lack of market transparency and information. We need to adopt a policy of sound money by requiring the Federal Reserve to focus exclusively on keeping inflation in check, as I've proposed with my Price Stability Act. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose excesses helped lead to the current mess, must be taken off the backs of taxpayers. We need a complete overhaul of our outdated financial regulatory system to emphasize market transparency and accountability.

The greatest threat to our nation's future prosperity is the explosion of entitlement spending. Our entitlement programs are headed for a painful collapse that will bankrupt this nation and leave our children with an inferior standard of living. If we don't tackle these problems, they will tackle us.

We must also offer bold alternatives to the destructive tax policies that the Democratic majority will work to enact. We must go beyond simply calling for lower taxes. We need a complete overhaul of our tax code. At a time of fierce global competition, the individual and business tax reforms I put forth earlier this year would encourage companies to invest in America, promote jobs here at home, and strengthen the paychecks of American workers.

We must take control of the health-care debate, and champion patient-centered alternatives to the socialized health-care proposals advocated by the Democrats. Health-care decisions should be made by individuals and their providers, not government bureaucrats or insurance company bureaucrats. We need to offer reforms that make health care mor

We cannot simply put up roadblocks to the emboldened Democratic majority. We need to offer an alternative future. Absent reform, our federal government will double in size within a generation. We must change course from this path of stagnation, and we must have leaders willing to provide a path that keeps alive the American ideal and keeps our government limited.

Our party has become too fearful of our own ideas. Since 1997, congressional Republicans began a steady retreat from principled leadership to political expediency. A party built on spending discipline and government reform succumbed to the siren songs of government expansion and earmarked giveaways. Republicans squandered the opportunity to limit and reshape the relationship between the federal government and the individual.

I ran on these bold ideas and innovative solutions in a congressional district carried by Barack Obama -- yet I received 64% of the vote. I challenge my colleagues to rethink political risk taking. Taking on our most serious fiscal challenges will restore relevancy to the Republican Party and will keep alive America's commitment to freedom and prosperity.

Tough times ahead indeed

From the Wall Street Journal yesterday:

Glum Tidings: Santa Gets Sacked as Cities, Companies Look to Save

Well, good luck to Bay City (Michigan) mayor Charles Brunner if he tries to eventually address the save-not-spend problems the city will be (or has been) encountering.

How do you address those problems? Oh, I don't know, by making consumers want to spend? And how do you make them want to spend? Perhaps by not making it seem like the end of the world? As corny as it sounds, Christmas is the one time of the year to which (most) people look forward; what can beat getting together with families, exchanging gifts and putting up the Christmas trees? We all remember the excitement we had as kids on Christmas Eve -- the decorations everywhere, the ubiquitous jingles (whether or not you consider it as a bad thing), the stockings, and, oh yeah, that big old dude Santa Claus.

I feel bad for Bay City residents this year. No Santa Claus ornament? That's a travesty. I certainly wouldn't be blaming them if they wanted to leave town for Christmas. I mean, come on; way to inspire and inject consumer confidence. I was talking in our last Town Hall meeting about the importance of consumer confidence and the uselessness of the media (and everyone else) painting all this in a negative light. This is a prime example. What would Bay City residents think when they don't see an illuminated Santa Claus on that prominent rooftop on Christmas Day? Nothing remotely close to "what an awesome Christmas!" Probably somewhere along the lines of "well, I guess the economy is that bad, huh?" And they're probably going to be more inclined to save their money in the foreseeable future.

Sure, as museum director Scott Swank says, "it feels a bit frivolous to mourn a festival when so many people are losing homes and jobs and life savings," but isn't some consistency a pleasant sight? It seems more frivolous to mourn a festival and mourn the loss of homes, jobs and life savings at the same time; that sure makes for a dark Christmas. Especially without an image that's so central to Bay City citizens around that time of year.

But don't completely lose faith just yet. There's a guy from the same state that knows how to get things done. Jim Fouts, mayor of Warren, hats off to you, good sir.

Learning through mistakes

Just a short update today with two IHT articles and what I think are the two most insightful quotes from each:

"A commercial economy as large as ours should not be built on a short-term funding apparatus."
U.S. bailouts need transparency

"You don't ever want a crisis to go to waste."
Franklin Delano Obama?

Again, the silver lining: there are many lessons to be learned from this economic crisis.